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Airlines would give up slots to get deal OK’d

Bloomberg News / March 11, 2010

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LUXEMBOURG — AMR Corp.’s American Airlines and British Airways PLC offered to cede at least four takeoff and landing slots in London for flights to New York and three other US cities to win approval for their proposed alliance.

Passengers on carriers that obtain the routes also would be able to earn frequent-flier benefits from American and BA, the European Commission said. The Brussels-based regulator will seek industry comments before a final ruling on the deal, which also includes Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA.

BA and American offered to give up slots at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports to maintain competition on routes to New York, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Miami, the EU said. On the New York-London route, a new competitor would get authorization to fly to New York’s Kennedy airport, the EU said.

The American and BA alliance won US backing last month that would allow them to jointly price, market, and schedule international flights after making similar concessions to give up four pairs of takeoff and landing slots from Heathrow airport, Europe’s busiest, to competitors.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., the UK carrier owned by Richard Branson, said the concessions are “woefully inadequate.’’