BRUSSELS: EU antitrust regulators warned on Friday (Feb 17) a bid by South Korea’s biggest carrier Korean Air Lines for second-placed Asiana Airlines could hurt competition, as they opened a full-scale investigation of the deal.
The proposed acquisition, announced in late 2020, would see Korean Air become the top shareholder of indebted Asiana, marking one of the first major deals in the aviation industry since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The European Commission said the deal could impact passenger and air cargo transport services between Europe and South Korea as the two airlines are strong and close competitors, confirming a Reuters story last week.
“The transaction could reduce competition in the provision of passenger transport services on four routes between South Korea and the EEA (European Economic Area),” the EU competition enforcer said in a statement.
Sources have told Reuters the four routes are to Barcelona, Frankfurt, Paris and Rome.
The EU watchdog will decide by Jul 5 whether to clear or block the deal. The deadline can be extended depending on whether the companies offer remedies to address the EU concerns.