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Aer Lingus takeover cleared by European Commission

Ryanair and Aer Lingus planes Image copyright AP

The European Commission has cleared the €1.3bn (£940m) takeover of Irish airline Aer Lingus by International Airlines Group (IAG).

However, IAG, which owns BA and Iberia will have to give up five daily slots at Gatwick to increase competition.

The Commission said the takeover is "conditional upon commitments offered by the parties".

It had expressed concerns that the takeover would lead to insufficient competition.

The Commission said that as it stood, the deal would have stopped "Aer Lingus from continuing to provide traffic to the long-haul flights of competing airlines on several routes".

IAG has also entered into agreements with competing airlines that operate long-haul flights out of the UK, the Netherlands and Ireland committing Aer Lingus to providing them with connecting passengers.

Ryanair

The approval comes after Ireland's low-cost carrier Ryanair on Friday accepted the bid by IAG for a near 30% stake in Aer Lingus.

IAG's plans include building a new transatlantic hub at Dublin airport.

Ryanair had attempted to buy Aer Lingus three times, the first time in 2006, just after Aer Lingus was floated on the stock market by the Irish government.

Image copyright Getty Images

The Irish government, which sold its 25% stake in Aer Lingus to IAG in May, recommended that Ryanair accept IAG's offer.

The deal values Aer Lingus shares at around €2.50 (£1.87) per share.

Aer Lingus is Heathrow Airport's fourth busiest operator, behind BA, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic.

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