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The European Commission has issued a preliminary statement regarding Lufthansa and Mef’s proposed acquisition of joint control of Ita Airways. The Commission expressed concerns that competition on some routes in the market for passenger air transport services in and out of Italy could be restricted as a result.

Specifically, the Commission is worried that customers may face higher prices or reduced quality of services post-transaction. The Commission believes that competition from other airlines is insufficient on long-haul routes between Italy and the United States, Canada, and Japan. Additionally, on short-haul routes connecting Italy with Central Europe, where Lufthansa and Ita compete directly with low-cost carriers such as Ryanair.

Ita’s dominant position at Milan-Linate airport is also a cause for concern, as it could make it challenging for competitors to provide air passenger transport services to and from that location. The Commission emphasizes that its goal is to prevent negative effects on customers in terms of increased costs or decreased quality of services.

Lufthansa and Mef now have the opportunity to respond to the Commission’s statement of objections, examine the Commission’s findings, request a hearing, and propose solutions to address the competition concerns. They can submit remedies at any point until the appeal deadline of April 26, 2024. The issuance of a Statement of Objections is a formal step in the investigation process and does not predetermine the outcome.

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