Deutsche Lufthansa has to do more to allay European Union concerns about its takeover of most of Air Berlin after offering concessions that won’t fully appease regulators, according to two people familiar with the process.
Lufthansa would need to improve upon its offer to cede landing rights of Air Berlin’s Niki arm in order to win approval for the deal, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
While Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr has said the carrier would “practically buy Niki without slots,” the offer submitted to the European Commission shows the company will hold on to many of Niki’s slots in Germany, including at congested airports such as Munich and Berlin Tegel, the people said.
The concessions were sent to rivals and customers for feedback on Wednesday with a response deadline of December 11.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has flagged “very serious overlaps” and “a risk of a very strong limitation of competition on quite a number of routes” that might lead to worse service and higher prices for flights in Germany. Regulators have until December 21 to clear the acquisition with concessions or open an extended investigation. Lufthansa is keen for a quick decision to keep costs in check or it may walk away from the deal.
Full Content: Financial Times