EasyJet cleared by EU Commission over Air Berlin asset acquisition
Authorities said the deal would not impact airline competition across the EU, where easyJet still faces rivals Lufthansa and Ryanair.
The European Commission has given the all-clear for easyJet to take over parts of collapsed Air Berlin.
EU authorities “unconditionally” approved the deal, saying it would not impact airline competition across the EU where it faces rival carriers including Lufthansa and Ryanair.
EasyJet agreed to buy part of Air Berlin’s operation for 40 million euro (£35.2 million) in October, which included a raft of landing slots as well as the rights to operate passenger transport at Berlin Tegel Airport.
Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “Our job is to make sure that airline takeovers do not result in less competition – that would mean higher flight fares and less choice for consumers.
“EasyJet’s plans to buy certain Air Berlin assets will not reduce competition and we have approved it today.
“Our decision enables easyJet to grow its presence at Berlin airports and start competing on new routes to the benefit of consumers.”
Regulators were originally concerned that easyJet’s expanded landing-slot portfolio at congested airports like Berlin Tegel would result in higher barriers to entry for airlines looking to operate from those airports, which could subsequently result in higher fares for passengers.
However, the investigation found the airline’s acquisition was unlikely to have a negative effect, adding that “easyJet will continue to face strong competition from large carriers”.
EasyJet’s shares were relatively flat following the news.
The Air Berlin deal expands easyJet’s footprint in Berlin, where it has a base at the smaller Schonefeld airport.
The German airline declared bankruptcy in August after its biggest shareholder Gulf airline Etihad withdrew financial support for the loss-making airline.
EasyJet said it was “pleased” to confirm it had garnered the European Commission’s approval.
It said: “The acquisition will result in easyJet operating 25 aircraft from Berlin Tegel Airport.
“The agreement includes easyJet leasing former Air Berlin aircraft, taking over other assets including slots, and offering employment to Air Berlin flying crews.
“The Commission has confirmed that there are no competition concerns relating to this agreement and easyJet now expects to complete the transaction in the near future.”