European Airlines Merger Cleared for Take-Off

07 July 2005

A €310 million ($369m; £210m) merger between German flag carrier Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines has been cleared for take-off.

European Commission regulators have approved the deal on condition the newly-weds concede up to 164 of their take-off and landing slots in eight cities, including their Frankfurt and Zurich hubs.

Lufthansa, the second largest European airline, has acquired Swiss in a bid to expand its intercontinental network and to increase its competitive edge.

Swiss was created from the ruins of Swissair, which collapsed in 2001. Since its rise from the ashes it has faced continuing finance problems as it battles to compete with low-cost carriers.

Says EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes: "The commitments given by Lufthansa ensure that competitors will be able to offer new services in competition with the merged company."

Lufthansa has wasted no time in publicizing its new status. Its internet site now shows pictures of Lufthansa and Swiss employees, the tailfins of the two companies and the words "Grüezi mitenand ['Hello to all of you' in Swiss German dialect] and welcome aboard."

The deal is another step in the European consolidation trend, following the union last year of Dutch carrier KLM and Air France, which created the continet's biggest airline measured by revenue passenger kilometers.

Data sourced from Deutsche Welle (Germany); additional content by WARC staff