The European Commission's (EC) competition directorate has said that it expects American Airlines and British Airways to reply to its preliminary proposals on the planned strategic alliance between the two by early to mid-September.

Competition commissioner Karel Van Miert outlined the next move in the lengthy process of approval on 22 August. He left open the exact timetable for a decision, although it is clear that at least several weeks of negotiations will be required. BA has already made it clear that the EC's consultative document would have to be modified "considerably" for there to be any progress on a deal, which has already received approval from the US authorities.

In the document, the EC says that the airline should give up 350 weekly slots at Heathrow - more than double the 168 demanded by the UK competition watchdog in its earlier ruling.

It is also asking for a major cut in the number of the partners' flights on certain transatlantic routes.

Source: Flight International