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Monday, 21 November 2011

The importance of choice

The recent news that International Airlines Group (IAG) are in negotiations with Lufthansa to acquire British Midland (BMI) has raised concerns in the aviation community. The acquisition of BMI would see IAG, who already own British Airways and Iberia, increase its share of landing slots at Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, rise from 45% to 54%.

The Leicestershire based carrier has reported losses of 154m euros (£133m; $213) for the first nine months of 2011, citing rising fuel costs and social unrest in some of its destinations in North Africa and the Middle East as reasons.

Amid growing concerns that IAG are monopolising Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic, who have tabled a rival bid to acquire the loss-making carrier, have described the prospect of an IAG takeover as "disastrous for consumer choice and competition".

Consumer choice is one of the fundamental aspects that Conferma, expert providers of settlement and reconciliation solutions to the Travel and Expenses (T&E) sector, values greatly. Providing access to multiple GDS and non-GDS content providers, Conferma prides itself on its vast and varied suite of content. Our award-winning Conferma Settlement Platform (CSP) can be seamlessly integrated into all systems, therefore we can partner with any card issuing bank or payments provider.

Conferma, who itself has recently expanded its own portfolio to offer payment solutions for low-cost carriers, is proud of its independence. Furthermore, Conferma’s neutrality endears it to an extensive network of travel and banking partners. This neutrality allows Conferma to maximise the number of potential opportunities in the business travel market and encourages competition amongst its partners.

Only time will tell if IAG's acquisition of BMI will deprive Heathrow of healthy competition and consumer choice.

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