BRUSSELS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The European Commission gave conditional clearance on Friday for closer ties between Spanish airlines Iberia IBLA.MC, Vueling VULG.MC and Clickair.
Vueling and unlisted Clickair, in which Iberia holds an 80 percent stake, announced in July plans for a full merger to create a carrier better equipped to tackle stiff competition and high fuel costs.
“The Commission’s clearance is conditional upon the parties releasing slots in Barcelona and other European airports to address competition concerns on several Spanish and other European routes,” the European Union executive said in a statement.
EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “The commitments given by Iberia will permit other airlines to enter new routes or expand their services in competition with the merged company.”
The parties offered to transfer slots — the landing and take-off rights at airports at specific times — free of charge at several airports, in particular Barcelona and Madrid, the statement said.
“These slots cover all routes where competition concerns were identified and would create the conditions for new entrants or existing competitors to operate more than 150 additional roundtrips per week,” the statement said.
“The Commission considers that these remedies are likely to considerably facilitate entry for competitors, maintain competitive pressure on the merged entity and thereby benefit Spanish and other European passengers on the affected routes.” (Reporting by Marcin Grajewski, editing by Dale Hudson)