Virgin anger as BA owner buys BMI

The owner of British Airways said today it had agreed to buy troubled airline BMI in a move which will increase its hold on the take off and landing slots at Heathrow airport.

The owner of British Airways said today it had agreed to buy troubled airline BMI in a move which will increase its hold on the take off and landing slots at Heathrow airport.

International Airlines Group (IAG), which also owns Spanish Carrier Iberia, has bought the airline from German carrier Lufthansa in a deal which has infuriated rivals such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic.

IAG would own more than half of the landing slots at the UK’s busiest airport if the deal is completed.

Virgin, which today said it had also made a bid for BMI, said: “British Airways’ hold over Heathrow is already too dominant and we are very concerned - as the competition authorities should also be – that BA’s purchase of BMI would be disastrous for consumer choice and competition.”

IAG said the deal is still subject to a binding purchase agreement and regulatory clearance but it envisages a deal could be signed in the first quarter of 2012.

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