IAG International Airlines Group’s second attempt to buy Air Europa (UX, Palma de Mallorca) could be subjected to a lengthy investigation by the European Commission and, ultimately, possible failure due to competition concerns, four unnamed sources close to the matter told the Financial Times this week.

“This is the second time this merger has been attempted, and it doesn’t look good,” one of the insiders said. “We didn’t like the first one. It’s going to be worse this time around.”

The sources said that the deal - which, according to the newspaper, has yet to be formally filed in Brussels - could be cleared with concessions, but the chances are slim. The European Commission will need to be convinced that ticket prices would not be higher following an agreement than without one.

As part of the assessment, regulators will look at the impact of the deal “route by route,” the sources said. It has been suggested that completion could take another year to clear regulatory hurdles, but IAG could still come up with enough concessions to secure EU approval, they added.

The Iberia and British Airways owner said in February that it would pay EUR400 million euros (USD440 million) to Air Europa owner Globalia for the remaining 80% of Air Europa to take full ownership of the heavily indebted airline. It ditched its first attempt to buy the carrier in 2021. A European Commission economist has already said, one month ago, that the regulator harbours serious reservations about the planned acquisition.

Contacted by ch-aviation, IAG declined to comment.

Last week, the newspaper El País reported that IAG’s and Iberia’s management and advisers were already at work on the task of preparing to argue for the acquisition of Air Europa before the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition. A committee in Brussels that will analyse the merger will be constituted within the next two weeks, according to the daily.