European Commission likely to approve easyJet’s $47 million acquisition of Air Berlin

The potential approval will enable easyJet to pull ahead of its peers, including Lufthansa and Ryanair.

On Monday, as per sources familiar with the matter at hand, easyJet, a budget airline from Britain, is set to win an unconditional approval from EU antitrust authorities to buy parts of its German peer, Air Berlin.

As a result, easyJet will take on a portion of Air Berlin’s operations at Tegel airport in Berlin for nearly $47 million (40 million euros) as well as take on leases of up to 25 A320 aircrafts, as well as around 1,000 of Air Berlin’s pilots and cabin crew.

The will will enable easyJet to further strengthen its position in Berlin and allow it to pull ahead of the Lufthansa Group as well as Ireland’s Ryanair in the German capital.

The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by December 12, declined to comment.

Before its insolvency, Air Berlin was the largest carrier in Berlin. Unlike its peer Lufthansa, Air Berlin has focused on Berlin while Lufthansa did most of its flying from hubs such as Munich and Frankfurt.

Eurowings, Lufthansa’s budget unit, could potentially expand rapidly if Lufthansa were to buy Air Berlin units such as LGW and Niki if it receives antitrust approval. It has already offered concessions to allay antitrust concerns that it could become too dominant on Austrian and German routes.

The European Commission is currently seeking feedback from others on the proposed concessions.

If the deal was approved, easyJet will become the largest carrier in Berlin and will have 16 million seats, ahead of 10.7 million by the Lufthansa Group (including its Eurowings, the LGW and Niki seats) and Ryanair on 5.9 million.

However, clarity is still required as to how much Eurowings and Lufthansa will be able to expand in the German capital and elsewhere.

As per Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa’s Chief Executive, the group was willing to take over Niki with virtually no slots if it meant getting EU approval for the deal.

Earlier, EasyJet had said, it would be ready to start its operations from Tegel in January if it were to gets regulatory approval.

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