German carrier Lufthansa clinched EU approval on Thursday for its scaled back bid to snap up assets of bankrupt Air Berlin, a European Union statement said.
Responding to signals that the EU would veto its initial plans, the German behemoth last week ditched its bid to buy Air Berlin’s Austrian unit Niki, focusing instead on the acquisition of the failed airline’s smaller LGW subsidiary.
“Our job is to make sure that mergers do not make European consumers worse off,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.
“Lufthansa has put forward improved remedies that make sure the effects of its LGW acquisition on competition are limited,” she added.
Lufthansa also accepted to forgo some of Air Berlin’s prized Düsseldorf airport slots in order to win the greenlight from Brussels.
“This regulatory approval of our acquisition of LGW is an encouraging development,” said Thorsten Dirks, a Lufthansa Group board member.
“And I am especially pleased that we can offer our new employees promising prospects within Europe’s fastest-growing airline,” he said.
The more modest offer, which won the EU’s backing, will see Lufthansa acquire the operations of LGW, a regional carrier employing hundreds of people.
Air Berlin CEO Thomas Winkelmann said the approval was “good news” as “more than 800 employees of LGW now have stable employment with the Lufthansa group”.
The deal includes taking over the roughly 30 planes flown by LGW but leased from other companies, a source familiar with the bid has told AFP.
The European Commission, the EU’s anti-trust authority, earlier this month approved the purchase of Air Berlin’s operations at the German capital’s Tegel Airport by British low-cost carrier easyJet.