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Exclusive: EU to clear US Airways, American $11 billion merger - sources

An American Eagle Embraer ERJ-140LR jet takes off as U.S. Airways jets are lined up at Reagan National Airport in Washington July 12, 2013.
An American Eagle Embraer ERJ-140LR jet takes off as U.S. Airways jets are lined up at Reagan National Airport in Washington July 12, 2013.

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - AMR Corp's American Airlines and US Airways will win EU approval for their $11 billion merger to become the world's largest carrier after agreeing to cede slots on a transatlantic route, three persons familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The airlines offered to give up slots at Heathrow and Philadelphia airports earlier this month after the European Commission raised competition concerns over the route.

"The deal is set to be approved," one source said.

Antitrust regulators typically require merging airlines to surrender slots to new entrants, thereby preserving competition.

The European Commission will rule on the planned merger by August 6. Commission spokesman Ryan Heath declined to comment on the EU competition authority's decision.

US Airways declined to comment. Its shares were unchanged at $19.23 in early morning trade.

AMR could not be immediately reached for comment. Its shares, which are traded over the counter in the United States, reversed a 1 percent loss and were trading 0.7 percent higher at $5.76 in early trade after Reuters reported on the EU approval.

The merger would be the means by which American emerges from Chapter 11 protection, which it sought in late 2011.

U.S. regulators are also examining the tie-up, the fourth involving major U.S. carriers in the last six years which could help accelerate the recovery in the airline industry as the few remaining players get more power to raise fares.

AMR in an SEC regulatory filing earlier this month said that competition regulators in Canada, Brazil and Mexico examined the deal without taking further action.

(Additional reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Justyna Pawlak, David Cowell and David Evans)

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