European Commission approves easyJet’s German expansion

EasyJet has secured the green light to take over part of failed Air Berlin’s operations at Berlin Tegel airport after the European Commission ruled it would not adversely affect competition in the EU.

The European Commission has “unconditionally” approved the proposed acquisition of certain assets of Air Berlin by easyJet.

The deal will result in easyJet operating 25 aircraft from Berlin Tegel Airport and taking over other assets including slots.

"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,” said commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

“Our decision enables easyJet to grow its presence at Berlin airports and start competing on new routes to the benefit of consumers.”

The Commission examined the impact of the proposed transaction, looking in particular at whether the slot portfolio, and at destination airports, would allow easyJet to shut out competitors from the market for passenger air travel to and from Berlin.

However, the investigation found the increase in the slot portfolio was “unlikely” to have a negative effect on passengers, while it said easyJet would continue to face strong competition from large carriers like Lufthansa and Ryanair on routes from and to Berlin.

Air Berlin, Germany's second largest airline, filed for insolvency in August 2017 and a deal between its administrators and easyJet was struck in October.

German flag carrier Lufthansa is taking the biggest chunk of Air Berlin, buying 81 of the airline's 144 aircraft. However, it has a deadline of 21 December to convince the European Commission that it does not breach competition rules.

Earlier this month, easyJet put close to one million seats on sale for flights operating to and from Berlin Tegel between 5 January and 24 March 2018

The new routes announced include four German domestic services connecting Berlin with Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart. The carrier will also add 15 international destinations, including flights up to five times a day to cities like Vienna and Zurich, as well as regular connections to popular leisure destinations like Mallorca and Catania. 

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