EU regulators to rule on Delta, Virgin airline deal by June 20

BRUSSELS Thu May 16, 2013 11:33am BST

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BRUSSELS May 16 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators will decide by June 20 whether to clear a bid by Delta Air Lines for a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic, which would help Delta to better compete with rivals United Continental and American Airlines.

Delta unveiled the deal in December last year, which involves setting up a joint venture which will let the U.S. carrier and its British peer offer more flights at Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport.

Antitrust lawyers say regulators may be concerned about the reduced incentive for the two companies to compete against each other once they set up the joint venture.

Airlines typically offer to give up airport slots or offer rivals access to their frequent flyer programmes to allay such worries.

Delta requested EU regulatory approval for the deal on Wednesday, the European Commission website showed.

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