The European Commission has expressed concern about Lufthansa and Mef’s plan to acquire joint control of Ita Airways. The Commission is worried that competition on some routes in the market for passenger air transport services in and out of Italy could be restricted, potentially leading to higher prices or reduced quality of service for customers.

The Commission’s particular concern relates to short-haul routes connecting Italy with Central Europe, where Lufthansa and Ita compete directly with low-cost carriers such as Ryanair. In addition, on long-haul routes between Italy and the United States, Canada, and Japan, the Commission considers that competition from other airlines is insufficient. It considers Ita, Lufthansa, and its partners as a single entity after the merger.

One of the main concerns raised by the Commission is Ita’s dominant position at Milan-Linate Airport. The Commission believes that this could challenge competitors to provide air passenger services to and from that location, potentially increasing costs or reducing the quality of services for consumers.

Lufthansa and Mef now have an opportunity to respond to the Commission’s statement of objections, examine its findings, request a hearing, and propose solutions to resolve competition issues. Companies can file remedies at any time until the appeal deadline of April 26, 2024. The Commission’s issuance of a statement of objections is a formal step in the investigation process but does not predetermine the outcome.

By Samantha Johnson

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