The European Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of the two low-cost Spanish airlines, Vueling and Clickair, by the Spanish flag-carrier Iberia, on the condition that commitments to safeguard competition and passenger choice are implemented. Under the proposed concentration, to be carried out through several interdependent transactions, Vueling and Clickair?in which Iberia already had a 20 per cent stake?would merge into "Nueva Vueling" over which Iberia would acquire control.
After analysing the proposed acquisition on a route-by-route basis, the Commission was concerned that the merger would restrict competition or even lead to a monopoly on 19 routes within Spain or from Spain to other European countries, in particular France, Greece and Italy. More specifically, the strong position of the merged entity on these routes in terms of passengers transported could have been further strengthened by its high combined shares of slots at Barcelona-El Prat and Madrid-Barajas airports.
In response to this concern, the parties offered to transfer slots free of charge at several airports, in particular Barcelona and Madrid, where congestion at peak hours is most significant. The Commission found that these commitments were likely to result in entry by one or more competitors on the routes where competition concerns were found and that these routes would therefore remain competitive.