The European Commission approved Thursday unconditionally under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of LaudaMotion by Ryanair. The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area.
The decision concerns the proposed acquisition of sole control over LaudaMotion by the air carrier Ryanair. LaudaMotion is the company through which Mr. Niki Lauda re-acquired in January 2018 the assets of NIKI, the leisure air carrier he founded in 2003 and was then later integrated into Air Berlin. The assets of NIKI were for sale because in December 2017 Lufthansa decided not to acquire NIKI and NIKI immediately filed for insolvency.
The Commission investigated the impact of the proposed transaction on the market for air transport of passengers on the routes from German, Austrian and Swiss airports to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, where the activities of Ryanair and LaudaMotion overlap.
The Commission also examined whether LaudaMotion’s portfolio of airport slots to be acquired by Ryanair at different airports would allow Ryanair to prevent competitors from entering or expanding their presence at these airports. Control over a large slot portfolio at congested airports can result in higher barriers to entry for airlines wanting to operate to and from these airports, which in turn could result in higher fares for passengers.
The Commission’s investigation found that the increase in the slot portfolio of Ryanair is unlikely to have a negative effect on passengers, and Ryanair will continue to face strong competition from other carriers on the routes to and from airports where the activities of both airlines overlap.
The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns in any of the relevant markets.