The Commission gave its approval for the deal last month (see online news March 30), in what Virgin called a “lightning speed decision”.
Sir Richard Branson said Virgin would “challenge every aspect of this process which if allowed to stand, will undoubtedly damage the British airline industry for years to come”, adding that the Commission had “seemingly ignored all of the strong cases made by politicians, business groups and airlines, to enable one big company to become even more bloated”.
Virgin confirmed it will bid to operate all of the 12 “remedy slots” given up by British Airways at Heathrow as part of IAG’s purchase, but said that “they alone are completely inadequate to address the damage which is being done by the deal”.
Branson also called for the remedy slots not to be broken up between more than one airline, warning that “You cannot provide serious competition in a piecemeal way and we believe it is crucial to use the slots together to create some sort of critical mass with a strong message to the consumer”.
At the time of the Commission’s approval, IAG said it expected the deal to completed around April 20.
Since then BA has started to sell flights for several Bmi destinations on its website (see online news April 4), and last week Bmi announced that Diamond Club members would no longer be able to earn or redeem miles on Lufthansa Group Airlines from April 19.
Report by Mark Caswell