Branson squares up to Walsh in European battle - Business News - Business - The Independent

Branson squares up to Walsh in European battle

Virgin Atlantic poised to appeal the EU decision to allow IAG's purchase of Bmi to pass so easily

Sir Richard Branson and Willie Walsh are set to renew hostilities as Virgin Atlantic launches a legal challenge to the EU decision to wave through International Airlines Group's acquisition of Bmi.

The British Airways owner bought Bmi from Lufthansa for a knock-down £90m back in April, but Virgin will submit a formal appeal to European authorities within the next fortnight or three weeks.

Sir Richard is angry that the deal went through the anti-trust process so quickly – just 35 working days – given that it resulted in IAG having over half all take-off and landing slots at Heathrow.

The appeal process is expected to take up to two years. Virgin Atlantic will push for stronger measures, or "remedies", to ensure competition than were introduced earlier this year. Prior to the deal, IAG had 43 per cent of Heathrow's slots.

IAG ended up handing over 14 slots, which Virgin branded as "derisory" as it represented only a quarter of Bmi's Heathrow network. Virgin is going to point to Manchester airport, which was deemed to have no competition issues in the original findings, as it believes that the European Commission placed too much emphasis on train links offering passengers an alternative form of transport.

An industry source said: "It looked as if the competition authorities just completely missed out the impact on Manchester. There were 14 pairs of remedy slots which it is tempting to split among several carriers, but BA needs a strong rival."

Steve Ridgway, the chief executive at Virgin Atlantic, told The Independent on Sunday: "I can confirm that we are going ahead with our appeal and that we are preparing it now."

Mr Walsh has often been publicly critical of Sir Richard. Earlier this year, Mr Walsh told the London Evening Standard that Sir Richard's opinions were " largely irrelevant" after the serial entrepreneur argued the deal would "cut consumer choice and screw the travelling public".

Their feud dates back to 2006, when a tip-off from Virgin resulted in US and UK competition authorities investigating BA for alleged price-fixing. As a whistleblower, Virgin was not fined for its role in the scandal while BA was penalised £271.5m.

Mr Walsh said of Sir Richard after that incident that he "wouldn't forgive anybody for what they did there" and went on to say that they did not like each other. However, the pair have only met on a handful of occasions.

Landing slots are hugely valuable to airlines and, paired with take-off slots, are thought to be worth up to £10m each. IAG even tried issuing bonds against up to 31 Heathrow slots, though this process was abandoned on Friday.

Originally, IAG was going to pay £172.5m for Bmi, but it is thought that this was slashed by more than half as compensation after Lufthansa failed to sell loss-making units Bmi baby and Bmi regional. Those units were not included in the terms of the original deal.

Potted history

1919 BA forerunner Aircraft Transport and Travel launches the first daily international scheduled service

1984 The then plain Richard Branson announced plans to launch Virgin Atlantic

1993 BA apologises "unreservedly" to Virgin after waging an alleged dirty tricks campaign against its growing rival

1999 A 49 per cent stake in Virgin was sold to Singapore Airlines, valuing the company at more than £1.2bn

2011 BA completes merger with Iberia. forming Europe's second biggest airline by market value

2012 Virgin challenges IAG's takeover of Bmi

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
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

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week