Lufthansa, easyJet win EU court backing to buy Air Berlin assets

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FILE PHOTO: Lufthansa planes are seen parked on the tarmac of Frankfurt Airport

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS – German airline Lufthansa and British peer easyJet on Wednesday gained backing from Europe’s second top court for their acquisitions of insolvent German carrier Air Berlin’s assets four years ago.

Lufthansa received the EU green light from the European Commission in 2017 to buy Air Berlin’s subsidiary LGW in return for giving up some slots at Duesseldorf airport.

In another deal, EasyJet secured unconditional clearance from the EU competition enforcer for the 40 million euros ($46.5 million) deal in 2017, which included some of Air Berlin’s operations at Tegel airport, leases for up to 25 A320 aircraft and about 1,000 of Air Berlin’s pilots and cabin crew.

Polish rival LOT subsequently challenged the EU executive’s decisions at the Luxembourg-based General Court.

“The General Court dismisses the actions of Polskie Linie Lotnicze ‘LOT’ against the Commission decisions authorising the mergers concerning the acquisition by easyJet and Lufthansa, respectively, of certain assets of the Air Berlin group,” judges said.

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LOT can appeal to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) on points of law. The cases are T-240/18 Polskie Linie Lotnicze “LOT” v Commission and T-246/18 Polskie Linie Lotnicze “LOT” v Commission.

($1 = 0.8604 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, Editing by Louise Heavens)