Lufthansa secures European approval for BMI acquisition

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German flag-carrier Lufthansa has secured European clearance to acquire a controlling share in the UK operator BMI, after regulators concluded that the two airlines already co-operated on routes where their networks overlapped.

Lufthansa is planning to raise its share of BMI to 80%. The European Commission, having analysed the proposal, says that it will "not significantly impede effective competition".

The analysis took into account Lufthansa's intended takeover of Belgium's Brussels Airlines, which is also undergoing Commission scrutiny.

As a result competition regulators identified 31 overlapping routes - mainly to Germany and Belgium - centred on eight UK destinations: London, Birmingham, Manchester, East Midlands, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle.

"On many of these routes the parties, which are both members of Star Aliance, already co-operate with each other," says the Commission.

"Lufthansa would be unlikely to start operating flights on those routes on which it currently only markets flights operated by BMI, and vice versa."

It adds that Lufthansa and BMI combined would also have "sufficient competition" on routes where the two carriers do not co-operate.

BMI also has "limited" freight and maintenance operations and the Commission has determined that competition in these sectors would not suffer under the merger.