Lufthansa has reached a binding agreement for British Airways’ parent company IAG to acquire Bmi.
However, Bmi’s Aberdeen-based subsidiary Bmi Regional and its low cost arm Bmibaby may still be sold to another buyer.
The £172.5 million cash deal remains subject to a “significant reduction” if Bmibaby is not included in the sale to IAG.
The sale, which is due to go through in the first quarter of 2012, also remains subject to competition clearance.
Willie Walsh, IAG’s CEO, said buying bmi's mainline business gives IAG a unique opportunity to grow at Heathrow, as it will gain 56 slots at the airport.
“Using the slot portfolio more efficiently provides the option to launch new longhaul routes to key trading nations while supporting our broad domestic and shorthaul network,” he said.
"This deal is good news for the UK as we will maintain a comprehensive domestic schedule including Belfast.”
Walsh has also indicated IAG is keen for Lufthansa to find an alternative buyer for Bmi Regional and Bmibaby.
In October, Bmi indicated it was in "advanced discussions" with a "group of investors previously associated with the regional business" to buy Bmi Regional.
If no buyer is found for loss-making Bmibaby, Lufthansa has said it will reduce its asking price for Bmi.