James Moore: Walsh knows his plans for BMI won't be grounded even if he's in the wrong

 

Outlook You've got to hand it to Willie Walsh. He's got a real talent for talking twaddle with an absolutely straight face. The deal he unveiled yesterday that will see his International Airlines Group taking BMI off Lufthansa's hands tightens significantly the already vice-like grip over take-off and landing slots at Heathrow held by British Airways, now the UK arm of IAG.

Heathrow users that splutter when they hear BA proclaiming itself the "world's favourite airline" are going to have to lump it. If the deal is allowed it will have 53 per cent of them.

Where's the problem, says Mr Walsh. BA will still be less dominant at Heathrow than Air France at Charles de Gaulle (59 per cent), than Lufthansa at Frankfurt (66 per cent), or than KLM at Schiphol (57 per cent). And that's nothing. Take a look around the globe and you'll find worse. Delta, for example, has 76 per cent of the slots at its base. In, ah, Atlanta.

Best not play poker with Mr Walsh. He managed to say all this without even indulging in a cheeky wink even though he was making about as specious an argument as it is possible to make.

Apart from the fact that none of the airports he mentioned occupies quite the pivotal position enjoyed by Heathrow in the UK, just because other airlines enjoy effective monopolies over their own little hubs doesn't make it right.

That is why Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Atlantic are crying foul.

To this Mr Walsh basically raised two fingers and said "yah boo sucks to you, Dicky". While Mr Walsh has been talking up the likelihood of regulators clearing him for take-off, he knows that they might be just a teensy bit concerned about his deal. Which is why he notified them before Sir Richard could get his complaint lodged.

It wasn't so very long ago that Mr Walsh might have had some cause for concern. But given the parlous state of the airline industry, that has all changed. Once-unthinkable alliances, like that between BA and American Airlines, have been cleared. Deals such as the one between BA and Iberia have also flown through.

It has been pointed out that EU regulators did thwart Ryanair's ambitions of taking over Aer Lingus. The Irish government, however, raised some rather strong objections. The British government will lobby in Mr Walsh's favour. Then there is the fact that just about everyone wanted to see Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary getting a bloody nose.

There may still be some remedies forced upon Mr Walsh. But the deal will probably be allowed for the same reasons a string of other dubious-looking transactions have been allowed: there aren't really any other options available.

BMI is in a mess and if Lufthansa can't offload the low-cost bmibaby separately then the final deal might look like it is paying IAG to take BMI off its hands rather than the other way round.

Sir Richard might be right (and there's really nothing worse than Sir Richard when he's right). It doesn't really matter. He can huff and puff all he wants, but he's not going to blow Mr Walsh's house down on this one. And Mr Walsh knows it.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on