British Airways PLC and Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA shareholders gave the go-ahead for a $9 billion merger that will extend the U.K. company's dominance of lucrative trans-Atlantic routes and close the gap to European market leaders Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
Iberia's owners backed the plan in Madrid, and three British Airways resolutions approving the deal won support from more than 99% of voters in London.
British Airways CEO Willie Walsh says he's planning further purchases in a push to cut costs and penetrate new markets.
In June, BA agreed with pension trustees to make additional contributions to the £8 billion ($12.47 billion) New Airways Pension Scheme and the £6.4 billion British Airways Pension Scheme, both of London, in the event that the company's year-end cash balance level rises above £1.8 billion. Employee contributions also would increase under the plan to reduce a deficit of about £3.7 billion.
The Spanish carrier's board approved that strategy on Sept. 23, clearing the way to consult investors.
Monday's votes pave the way for the carriers to combine under the International Consolidated Airlines Group SA holding company. The transaction is scheduled take effect on Jan. 21 after gaining U.K. High Court approval on Jan. 19, they said.