British Airways’ parent company has made a new set of concessions to the European Union to try to secure permission to buy Bmi.
IAG offered to make a range of concessions - or “remedies” as they are known within the EU – earlier this month to ensure its £172.5 million deal to buy Bmi from Lufthansa is cleared by competition authorities.
But IAG has now agreed to increase these remedies, which will be a number of landing and take-off slots at Heathrow, after the EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the original IAG proposal had received a “negative” response from “stakeholders”.
Almunia and his colleagues are now considering the airline's new proposal. A Reuters report on Thursday suggested that IAG would secure approval to buy Bmi, quoting an unnamed source who is "familiar with the matter".
The European Commission has set this Friday (March 30) as the provisional deadline for a decision on the IAG-Bmi deal but this could be delayed for a longer investigation.
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic used the opportunity to make another plea for the EU to block the Bmi sale.
“This is a critical week, not just for the future of bmi, but for the future of aviation competition in this country,” said a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman.
“The commission must not waver from its purpose of protecting competition and with it the best interests of the consumer.
“Virgin Atlantic has made clear from the outset that we believe this proposed deal would weaken consumer choice, driving up fares and driving down capacity on many routes. If this deal is passed, and we acquire remedy slots, we will operate these to reinject competition on the routes where British Airways would otherwise hold a monopoly.”
IAG, which also owns Spanish carrier Iberia, has said that it "remains confident that we will receive regulatory approval for the deal" but has refused to discuss details of its discussions with the EU.
Currently BA has around 44% of slots at Heathrow but buying Bmi would give IAG a total of 53% of slots including Iberia.