BA protests at Midland deal

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The Independent Online

British Airways served notice last night that it intends to lodge a formal protest with the European Commission following the news that British Midland is to join the Star Alliance and allow Lufthansa of Germany to take a 20 per cent stake.

British Airways served notice last night that it intends to lodge a formal protest with the European Commission following the news that British Midland is to join the Star Alliance and allow Lufthansa of Germany to take a 20 per cent stake.

BA, which is furious at the move, also said regulators may now be forced to take a fresh look at the objections they have raised to its stalled alliance with American Airlines.

"This re-opens the whole issue of our alliance with AA. It changes the ball game completely," said a BA spokesman.

The airline fears that the Star Alliance will use British Midland's position at Heathrow - where it will have 24 per cent of the slots to BA's 38 per cent share - to distort competition on transatlantic routes and services between the UK and Germany and Scandinavia.

A BA spokesman also raised the spectre of the British aviation industry falling under foreign control. "Once upon a time there were vibrant British car and shipbuilding industries. Now they are foreign owned and we can see that happening with airlines. There will be major carriers controlled from Fort Worth and Chicago and Frankfurt and there will be little old us, reduced to a niche player."

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