Key Points:

  • Lufthansa and the Italian government are seeking EU antitrust approval for Lufthansa's purchase of a 41% stake in ITA Airways.

  • The €325m deal, agreed upon in June, includes options for Lufthansa to acquire additional shares in ITA Airways in the future.

  • To address competition concerns, Lufthansa might cede slots at Milan-Linate Airport, with the European Commission set to decide on the deal by January 15.

Lufthansa's Strategic Expansion into Italy's ITA Airways

Lufthansa, the German aviation giant, in conjunction with the Italian government, has formally requested approval from the European Union for antitrust clearance. This move is a significant step in Lufthansa's plan to acquire a controlling minority stake in ITA Airways, Italy's national airline. To ease potential competition worries, Lufthansa is reportedly ready to relinquish some slots at Milan's Linate Airport. This development comes as Lufthansa aims to purchase a 41% stake in ITA for €325 million as part of a capital increase initiative.

The decision to pursue this minority stake purchase was solidified in June, following an agreement between the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and Lufthansa. This agreement not only facilitates the initial stake acquisition but also includes provisions for Lufthansa to potentially acquire the remaining shares of ITA at a later date.

EU Review Process and Potential Slot Concessions

Once the European Union grants approval, Lufthansa Group and ITA Airways are set to initiate immediate collaboration at both commercial and operational levels. The Italian Treasury has joined Lufthansa in submitting a joint request to the European Commission for the approval of this deal. The European Commission has set a deadline of January 15 to make a decision, which can result in either a straightforward approval, approval with specific conditions, or the initiation of a more extensive four-month investigation if serious concerns arise.

According to insider sources, to mitigate competition concerns, Lufthansa and ITA Airways are considering the transfer of some take-off and landing rights at Milan's Linate Airport. This concession might prove to be a key factor in obtaining the necessary EU clearance for the deal. The proposed acquisition represents a strategic move by Lufthansa to strengthen its presence in the Italian market and reflects the ongoing consolidation and realignment within the European aviation industry.