Lufthansa wins approval for Austrian Airlines plan

Lufthansa wins approval for Austrian Airlines plan
# 28 August 2009 15:10 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA-Economics. Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe’s second-biggest airline, won approval from EU antitrust regulators for its plan to purchase Austrian Airlines AG, after it promised to offer slots to allay competition concerns, Bloomberg reported.

The offer will enable new entrants to operate flights on routes from Vienna to Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne and Brussels, the European Commission said in a statement today.

“This case shows that consolidation in the airline sector is possible with proper remedies to safeguard consumers’ interests,” said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes in the statement.

Lufthansa, which has headquarters in Cologne, Germany, and its biggest hub in Frankfurt, offered on Dec. 3 to buy Vienna- based Austrian Airlines as part of an industry consolidation prompted by the recession. The commission extended its antitrust review in July, saying Lufthansa hadn’t provided adequate concessions amid concern that the deal would hinder competition on routes from Vienna.

The commission said it also approved the Austrian government’s plan to take on 500 million euros ($717 million) of Austrian Airlines’ debt as part of the agreement for Lufthansa to buy the state’s stake. The plan conforms with rules on rescue and restructuring of firms in difficulty, the regulator said.

“All of the necessary conditions for the merger in accordance with the public takeover offer have been met within the prescribed deadline and Austrian Airlines will be integrated into the Lufthansa Group as of September,” Lufthansa said in an e-mailed statement.

Air France-KLM Group, which on Dec. 11 filed a complaint to the European Commission, alleging that the conditions under which Lufthansa emerged as the sole bigger for Austrian Air were unfair, declined to comment, spokesman Cedric Leurquin said today.
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