BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Thursday approved the purchase by Delta Airlines of Singapore Airlines' 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, to create a joint venture that will expand the carriers' trans-Atlantic network.
The commission, which is the executive arm of the 27-nation European Union, said in a statement that it had "concluded that the proposed transaction did not raise competition concerns."
Delta and Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic announced the deal in December but it was subject to approval by EU regulators.
The commission said that many of Delta and Virgin's flights between Britain and North America overlap but that their joint venture would still face tough competition from rival carriers.
"The commission's investigation confirmed that in all markets the combined entity would continue to face competition from several strong competitors, notably British Airways and American Airlines," the commission said.
Virgin Atlantic will keep its 51% controlling stake as part of the deal, which gives the Atlanta, Georgia-based Delta greater presence at the congested London Heathrow airport.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013