One problem is that airport take-off and landing rights, also known as slots, for sale have not been used by other airlines on routes where there are competition concerns. Reynders told the British newspaper: “We see that some solutions are not effective. In the past, the main requirement was for airlines to offer their opportunities to other companies.”
Brussels wants the merging airlines to ensure from now on that the slots they sell will be used for flights on routes where there are competition concerns. Regulators can also require them to sell certain assets, such as air cargo or aircraft spare parts or contracts with airport handling companies.
A new wave of acquisitions and consolidation has been taking place in the European aviation sector since the end of the Corona pandemic. The virus outbreak was a major blow to airlines’ finances, making it difficult for them to remain independent.
Air France-KLM recently bought a 20 percent stake in Scandinavian peer SAS as part of a rescue. Earlier this year, Germany’s Lufthansa Group became a 41% owner of Italy’s national airline ITA. Both agreements still need EU approval. Portuguese company TAP is also up for sale. Air France-KLM and British Airways’ parent company IAG, among others, are interested.
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