European Commission Oks Air France-KLM Merger

13 February 2004

The blessing of the European Commission, the EU's administrative arm, was conferred Wednesday on the proposed marriage between two national airlines, Air France and Dutch flag-carrier KLM.

As expected, the thumbs-up was conditional on substantial concessions from the airlines, all relating to enhancement of competition on certain routes within Europe and the north Atlantic. These include the surrender of ninety-four daily takeoff and landing "slots" at busy airports in cities such as Paris and Amsterdam.

The deal, which will create Europe's largest airline company with revenue in the region of €19 billion ($24.32bn; £12.88bn), also won consent from the US Justice Department.

Final approval, however, is yet to be given by the happy couple's shareholders -- although few believe this to be anything other than a rubber-stamping exercise. KLM chairman Leo van Wijk expects the marriage to be consummated by spring.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff