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Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for January 27th, 2011

Shot Down in Flames

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Yesterday, Commissioner Almunia shot down its first merger since in office. The Commission vetoed the proposed merger between Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air, considering it would result in a quasi-monopoly on the Greek air transport market.

In its press release, the Commission seeks to assuage concerns of over-enforcement. Here are some excerpts:

 “The Commission has examined 11 mergers and many alliances in this sector since 2004 and this is only the second negative prohibition“.

This is the first merger prohibition since the Ryanair/Aer Lingus case in 2007. In total 20 cases have been prohibited out of a total of more than 4,500 mergers reviewed“.

Such statements are the tree hiding the forest. With the GC’s confirmation of the Commission decision in Ryan Air/Aer Lingus and the very many decisions where the Commission requested heavy remedies, merger policy in the airlines sector is all but a soft one (possibly for good reasons).

Written by Nicolas Petit

27 January 2011 at 7:32 am