By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -British Airways owner IAG expects EU antitrust regulators to open a full-scale investigation into its plan to buy Spain’s Air Europa and will offer remedies to address their concerns, IAG’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
The deal is part of a wave of consolidation in the airline sector, with Germany’s Lufthansa seeking to buy a minority stake in Italy’s state-owned ITA Airways, and Korean Air looking to buy Asiana.
EU regulators have recently taken a tougher line when deciding whether to approve deals, and now sometimes want acquiring airlines to divest assets and not just give up some routes or airport slots to address competition concerns.
“We have informed the (European Commission) case team that we will formally present remedies in Phase 2 to allow them to fully assess the viability and relevance of our proposals,” IAG’s Luis Gallego said.
Phase 2 refers to the full-scale investigation that the Commission is set to launch at the end of its preliminary review on Jan. 24.
“In the meantime, we continue to test interest from a range of remedy takers to ensure they meet the Commission’s requirements,” Gallego said.
IAG, which also owns Iberia, in February last year said it had agreed to pay 400 million euros ($436 million) to Spain’s Globalia for the 80% of Air Europa it did not already own.
($1 = 0.9184 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun CheeEditing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)