EU CONFIRMS IT WILL RULE ON BA-AA ALLIANCE MAY 27

EU CONFIRMS IT WILL RULE ON BA-AA ALLIANCE MAY 27

The European Commission confirmed Monday it will announce May 27 whether British Airways and American Airlines have done enough to gain antitrust clearance for their long-delayed alliance.

The commission will simultaneously deliver its verdict on a parallel partnership between Lufthansa and United Airlines, according to an aide to European competition commissioner Karel Van Miert.Mr. Van Miert is expected to stick to his original demand that the two carriers surrender up to 350 takeoff and landing slots at London Heathrow airport. The airlines are said to be ready to give up around 250 slots.

Lufthansa will be told to surrender up to 100 slots at its home base at Frankfurt-Main International Airport.

SAS, which is also teaming up with Lufthansa and United, faces the loss of slots at Copenhagen airport.

The commission's announcements will trigger the final stage of its investigation involving the response of rival airlines. The decision also risks opening a rift between Brussels and Washington following U.S. criticism of Mr. Van Miert's stance on competition.

Charles Hunnicutt, the U.S. assistant aviation secretary, wrote to Mr. Van Miert last week warning that his proposals to limit flights on certain routes would reduce competition and increase fares.

Mr. Van Miert said he expects to make a final decision on the BA-AA alliance in August.

U.S. regulators have approved the Lufthansa-United alliance but have yet to clear the BA-AA partnership.