British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia are set to launch a transatlantic joint business later this year after the European Commission approved its proposals today. The airlines are awaiting a final decision on anti-trust immunity from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) before the deal is secured. However, BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh welcomed the move and explained how Heathrow would play a key part in the group’s plans. “We await the DOT’s final decision but welcome this important and vital step forward,” he said. “The high number of new services on London to US routes since the Open Skies agreement demonstrates that Heathrow is open. Between us, we have agreed to make available Heathrow slot pairs for our competitors to use on services to the US. This is a pragmatic decision so that we can get the joint business up and running as soon as possible.” Walsh added that this would help the airlines obtain slots from London to New York if competitor airlines are unable to acquire them through the normal process. The approval has also confirmed the merger of BA and Iberia and has allowed the oneworld alliance to boost its presence in the Atlantic.