Lufthansa's price for acquiring a larger stake in its regional partner Eurowings will be to offer up some routes to Deutsche BA. Germany's anti-trust body, the Bundes-Kartellamt, is believed to have invited British Airways' German arm to bid to the country's civil aviation authority for landing slots, on the understanding that part of its proposal to Eurowings and Lufthansa will be to reduce frequency on the routes.

In April, BundesKartellamt president Dr Ulf Böge said: "The market position of Lufthansa is so dominant, particularly on the German domestic flight market, that the merger would lead to a significant weakening of competition." Böge singled out four routes as significant - Dortmund-Munich, Düsseldorf-Nuremburg, Munich-Paderborn and Nuremburg-Berlin Tempelhof - where competition would disappear following any merger. Deutsche BA currently only competes with Lufthansa on seven routes and the BundesKartellamt is keen to increase the Munich-based regional's presence in the market.

Deutsche BA, which operates an all Boeing 737-300 fleet, has ruled out starting a service to Paderborn, as it cannot run a profitable service to replace Eurowings's ATR 42 service. Deutsche BA is discussing services to Berlin from Nuremburg and between Dortmund and Munich, but the route between Nuremburg and Düsseldorf may escape the competition authority's regulation.

Eurowings is being brought into line with other Lufthansa partners, ordering 15 Bombardier CRJ200s earlier this year and co-ordinating its schedule with that of its parent. Lufthansa CityLine says that it would ideally like to find a new home for its 18 BAE Systems Avro RJ85s, but that these aircraft are currently the only option for some of its routes, notably London City and Florence, due to runway limitations. Once Eurowings is fully integrated into the group, it would be in a position to absorb the aircraft and could potentially operate the routes on CityLine's behalf.

Source: Flight International