EU Approves Lufthansa’s Air Berlin Asset Purchase
The European Commission has approved Lufthansa’s purchase of regional German airline LG Walter (LGW) from Air Berlin after it agreed to a reduction in the number of Düsseldorf airport slots it will acquire as part of the deal.
Under the new agreement Lufthansa’s Düsseldorf slots will increase by only 1 percent, with competitors holding 50 percent. The Commission said in its ruling that the competitive effects of Lufthansa's acquisition of LGW would be limited.
As part of gaining EU approval for the acquisition, Lufthansa had already agreed to drop its bid for another Air Berlin unit, Austrian low cost carrier Niki. Air Berlin’s insolvency administrator has launched a sales process for Niki, with the airline’s founder Niki Lauda bidding to take over the airline.
The acquisition of LGW will see Lufthansa adding 33 LGW aircraft to its low cost unit Eurowings’ fleet. All LGW employees will transfer over to Eurowings under their current contracts of employment.
With the successful takeover, Lufthansa expects the number of staff employed at LGW to increase to 870 during 2018.
“This regulatory approval of our acquisition of LGW is an encouraging development,” Eurowings chief executive Thorsten Dirks said. “And I am especially pleased that we can offer our new employees promising prospects within Europe’s fastest-growing airline.”
Lufthansa’s formal takeover of LGW is expected in January 2018.
The European Commission has already approved UK airline easyJet’s takeover of Air Berlin assets at Berlin's Tegel airport, including 25 aircraft and 1,000 staff. The acquisition will push easyJet into the top spot as Tegel’s biggest airline.