Lufthansa’s Purchase of Ita: EU Antitrust Investigation Concludes Amid Monopoly Concerns

Ita and Lufthansa’s marriage set to face challenges in Brussels

The European Union (EU) Commission is set to release a statement on the purchase of Ita by Lufthansa in the near future, potentially as early as next week. The EU antitrust investigation into this operation began on 23 January and will conclude on 6 June. There has been speculation about possible objections that could be raised by EU institutions, particularly with regards to the potential monopoly position that may be established on certain routes due to Lufthansa’s existing portfolio of airlines.

Low-cost carriers have been eagerly waiting for news regarding the sale of slots at major Italian airports such as Fiumicino and Linate. Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, suggested that the European Commission should approve the operation only if 30% of Fiumicino’s slots are relinquished and distributed among other airlines to ensure real competition.

The agreement between the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (Mef) and Lufthansa for the sale of an initial 41% stake in Ita for 325 million euros was made almost a year ago, in May 2023. The Minister of Economy, Giancarlo Giorgetti, has expressed frustration with the lengthy process and urged the EU institutions to move forward with approval. Both Lufthansa’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, and EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager have expressed optimism about progress despite some delays.

Overall, it remains uncertain what challenges Lufthansa may face from EU institutions regarding potential monopolies and competition in European aviation.

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