International Consolidated Airlines Group's (IAG) takeover of Aer Lingus has been given the final go-ahead by European competition regulators.
The European Commission has cleared the €1.36bn (£960m) takeover following "commitments offered by the parties".
British Airways owner IAG agreed to relinquish five daily slot pairs at Gatwick airport to "facilitate the entry" of competing airlines on routes from London to Dublin and Belfast, while Aer Lingus will continue to connect passengers to long-haul flights out of Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Amsterdam, Shannon and Dublin.
The European Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said:
By obtaining significant concessions from the airlines the Commission has ensured that air passengers will continue to have a choice of airlines at competitive prices after IAG's takeover of Aer Lingus. The 5m passengers travelling each year from Dublin and Belfast to London will be able to choose among several strong carriers.
And we are also protecting passengers travelling on connecting flights between Ireland and the rest of the world.
IAG's protracted takeover of the Irish carrier now looks set for completion, with the Commission's approval following Ryanair's agreement to sell its 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus on Friday.