Virgin Atlantic has again put out statements stating it is “disappointed” that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will not be reviewing International Airlines Group’s takeover of Lufthansa’s loss-making airline, BMI.
Yesterday the OFT said it will leave the decision of the deal’s approval with the European Commission (EC). Today Virgin Atlantic has called the OFT’s move a failure to “take responsibility for competitiveness in the UK market”.
Virgin Atlantic, which originally bid on BMI, has been trying to put the brakes on the IAG deal since its announcement in December last year, and last month lodged an official complaint with the EC.
Virgin last month made an official complaint to Europe about the tie-up, amid concerns British Airways-owner IAG would become the sole carrier between Heathrow and a number of destinations, including Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
Virgin, which itself made three attempts at buying loss-making BMI, had also hoped the OFT would investigate the consequences for UK competition, particularly between London and the regions.
A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic, said: “We’re very disappointed that the OFT has failed to take responsibility for competitiveness in the UK aviation market.
“The passing of slots from BMI to BA will fundamentally change the landscape of UK aviation for good, harming competition and disadvantaging consumers.
“We are surprised that the OFT has not taken up this challenge in the best interests of the UK consumer.”
The OFT said the EC was best placed to assess the deal as some of the issues “require a comprehensive review of routes across many jurisdictions, not just the UK”, as reported by the Telegraph.
The final decision on the takeover will be made on 16 March, but this deadline could be extended.