CityJet’s plans to place two aircraft on long-term wet lease with Aer Lingus will be scrutinised by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA issued an initial enforcement order earlier this month stating it had “reasonable grounds” to suspect the deal would result in the two companies’ assets ceasing to be “distinct”.
On Monday (October 29), the watchdog confirmed its investigations had progressed to a full merger inquiry.
In August, CityJet announced plans to “join forces” with IAG-owned Aer Lingus. The deal would see CityJet relinquish its Dublin-London City airport route and instead fly six week day return services on behalf of Aer Lingus and a reduced weekend service using two of CityJet’s Avro RJ85 aircraft in Aer Lingus livery.
This arrangement came into effect on Sunday (October 28), prompting the CMA’s full investigation.
Stakeholders and concerned parties have until November 12 to comment, with the CMA proposing to make a decision on whether to progress the probe to a phase two investigation by December 24.
The initial order and launch of the investigation does not prohibit CityJet and Aer Lingus undertaking the new arrangement, albeit subject to a number of provisos while the proceedings are ongoing.
These include weekly reports to the CMA on changes to the use and preservation of slots at London City and Dublin airports, any proposed changes to Aer Lingus or CityJet schedules between the two airports, any changes to the aircraft committed to the route and any disruption to service for more than 24 hours.