The European Commission opened an in-depth probe into Lufthansa’s bid for a stake in Italian carrier ITA Airways.
Brussels warned that the deal could reduce competition in passenger air transport services on several short-haul and long-haul routes in and out of Italy.
The investigation is due to take 90 working days to complete and comes despite Lufthansa submitting commitments earlier in January to address some of the Commission’s preliminary concerns.
Lufthansa revealed last May that it wants to acquire a 41% minority stake in the state-owned Italian carrier for €325 million as part of a capital increase.
The Commission said a preliminary investigation “indicates that the transaction may reduce competition in the market for passenger air transport serviceson several short-haul and long-haul routes.
“Lufthansa and ITA are strong and close competitors in the provision of passenger air transport services on certain routes to and from Italy.”
The German carrier said at the time that the agreement “provides for various options” for Lufthansa Group to increase its stake in ITA Airways or to acquire it outright.
The Commission said it will also examine possible negative effects on routes on which other airlines rely on access to ITA’s domestic and short-haul network for their own operations, “which could affect their services to international destinations also served by Lufthansa”.
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