Commission Approval Of BMI Takeover "Poor Decision For Scotland"

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has commented on today's decision by the European Commission competition authorities to allow the £172 million purchase of British Midland Ltd (BMI) by International Airlines Group (IAG), which also owns British Airways.

Earlier this year, Alyn joined all of Scotland’s MEPs in a letter to Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, which raised their shared concerns about the implications of the takeover.
 
Commenting, Alyn said:
 
"For the Commission to wait until 6pm Brussels time on a Friday night tells me they know fine well that this is a poor decision.

"The decision by IAG to give up 14 slots at Heathrow Airport, instead of the ten initially proposed, suggests that there were some very real concerns within the DG Competition that there is a potential monopolistic situation in the pipeline here. It is apparent that this late move has persuaded the Commission, though I want far more clarity that Scottish passengers travelling to Heathrow will not find themselves paying the price for lack of choice and competition.
 
"I absolutely want to see guarantees that the remedy slots will be properly regulated, that they will remain accessible to any operator operating out of Scotland and northern England, and that they are made available in a transparent way and on a commercial basis. I will write, today, to the UK government to fully press home this point.
 
"Naturally, I would prefer that Scottish passengers could fly direct to their destinations, but it is a fact that a significant number of travellers have to use Heathrow as a staging post. A potential reduction in service and an increase in price would have a disproportionate impact on Scottish travellers who are already limited in transport choices and the UK government must guarantee that access is protected."
 
The Commission press release can be viewed at: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/12/338&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en