The European Commission has approved unconditionally under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of certain assets of Air Berlin by easyJet. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not adversely affect competition in the EU Single Market.
“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,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy.
The move means Easyjet will increase its presence in Germany to challenge German market leader Lufthansa.
Easyjet said that it would operate four new routes within Germany from Jan. 5, 2018.
A total of 250 weekly flights from Berlin-Tegel airport will begin servicing destinations Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich.
The announcement came amid mounting fears that Lufthansa would become an even more dominant player in Germany after successfully acquiring the lion’s share of insolvent budget carrier Air Berlin.
Industry experts have since warned that the company’s resulting stranglehold on the domestic aviation market could harm competition and lead to higher prices for customers.
Easyjet confirmed in October that it had submitted a bid to acquire parts of Air Berlin’s business at the Berlin Tegel airport in order to become the “leading short-haul operator” there.
The British company also offered to take thousands of former Air Berlin employees onto its payroll.
Last week Easyjet Europe manager Thomas Haagensen said that his firm was happy “to offer more competition and lower rates, in particular for domestic connections for which there is currently only a very limited selection.”
Haagensen noted that Easyjet’s new flight schedule at Berlin Tegel airport would be attractive to business travelers as well, due to the availability of early departure times.
In addition to the four domestic routes, Easyjet will offer new 15 international connections from Berlin Tegel to Paris, Vienna, Zuerich and Palma de Mallorca.