The European Commission unconditionally approved the acquisition by easyJet of certain assets of insolvent airline Air Berlin after a Phase 1 review. The deal involved easyJet acquiring the slots and other assets related to all routes flown by Air Berlin to and from Berlin.
Despite easyJet and Air Berlin being the only airlines operating on a number of routes, easyJet were able to persuade the Commission that no competition concerns would arise. The parallel acquisition by Lufthansa of certain assets of Air Berlin raised significant competition concerns, leading to Lufthansa abandoning part of its transaction.
Air Berlin had filed for insolvency and subsequently grounded aircraft, meaning that the assets acquired were primarily slots. CRA assisted easyJet in persuading the Commission to shift away from a traditional O&D route-based analytical approach to assess the transaction based on examining airlines’ slot position at airports, a new analytical approach.
Despite both Berlin airports and most of the ‘destination’ airports being level 3/fully coordinated (i.e. having significant capacity constraints), and easyJet and Air Berlin being two of the three largest airlines in Berlin, CRA was able to help easyJet persuade the Commission there were no competition concerns.
For more details, please see the EC’s press release.