British Airways has bought six pairs of take off and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport from bmi.
It gives the UK national carrier 45% of the slots at the country’s major airport.
The move has increased specualtion that the International Airline Group (IAG) of which BA is apart, could buy more slots from the loss making bmi or even take over the whole airline.
The Lufthansa Group, which bought bmi in 2009, is considering the airline’s future after it posted a loss of €120m for the first six months of this year.
Lufthansa itself is also suffering in the current economic climate and issued a profits warning last week.
The six pairs of slots, which analysts estimated would cost between €100m and €150m, will be used to expand both BA’s short and long haul services, possibly including new destinations.
A spokesman for Lufthansa said bmi no longer needed the slots for its operations.
Willie Walsh, while ceo of BA, made no secret of his interest in acquiring bmi.
Now ceo for IAG following BA’s merger with the Spanish carrier Iberia, Walsh repeated his interest in bolting on both bmi and the Portuguese airline TAP to the IAG empire.
However in a speech to the London Irish Business Society in London earlier this month, he ruled out bidding for Aer Lingus where he was also once ceo.