Australia's competition watchdog will only complete its review of Virgin Australia's proposed takeover of regional carrier Skywest in early 2013.
In a stock exchange filing, Virgin Australia said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has advised that submissions related to the proposal will close on 22 November, and that it expects to announce its findings on 31 January 2013.
The ACCC approval is one of the conditions for the takeover to proceed.
The takeover is also subject to approval from the Securities Industry Council of Singapore, the High Court of Singapore and the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board.
Virgin Australia announced its cash and shares takeover offer for Perth-based Skywest on 30 October, in a move that it says will allow it to grow its regional network more rapidly and give it a strong presence in the mining charter industry.
If the takeover is completed, Virgin says that Skywest will retain its air operator's certificate and management, but it will adopt the Virgin branding across its operations.