Agreements to hand over the US Airways slot pair connecting London Heathrow Airport and Philadelphia International Airport and to help an eventual new competitor were enough to win over European regulators mulling approval of the proposed US Airways-American Airlines merger, the European Commission confirmed late Monday.
“US Airways and American Airlines submitted commitments to release one daily slot pair at London Heathrow and Philadelphia airports, and also provided further incentives such as the possibility for a new entrant to acquire grandfathering rights after a certain period of time,” the European Commission (EC) said in a statement. “Furthermore, the parties, supported by their [Oneworld] joint venture partners...committed to entering into special feed traffic agreements” with the yet-to-be-named competitor.
“In light of these comprehensive commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns,” the EC says.
Currently, only US Airways, with one daily flight, and American’s Oneworld partner British Airways, with two, operate nonstop services between London and Philadelphia. It is the only transatlantic market in which both American and US Airways provide nonstop service, either directly or through a partner. The two airlines compete on 27 nonstop/one-stop transatlantic routes and 39 one-stop/one-stop routes.
The EC said its review “confirmed that on all other transatlantic routes affected by the merger, the combined entity will continue to face competition from other strong competitors.”
EC approval represents yet another hurdle cleared on the way to what the carriers anticipate is a third-quarter completion of the merger. The deal must also be approved by American’s bankruptcy court and U.S. regulators.