The European Commission has decided to prohibit the proposed merger of Greek carriers Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, following a monopolies investigation which lasted 10 months.
The main shareholders of Aegean Airlines and Marfin Investment Group – the owner of Olympic Air – agreed on February 22, 2010 to merge the two carriers (which are the two largest airlines in Greece and together control most of the traffic at Athens International Airport), subject to monopolies approval by the European Competition Commission.
Now, as a result of the EC’s decision, Aegean Airlines and Marfin Investment Group have dissolved the February 22 agreement.
“Throughout last year we presented to the European Commission the benefits of the merger for our companies, our passengers and our country’s economy,” says Theodore Vassilakis, chairman of Aegean Airlines. “We also offered important commitments to safeguard consumers, as well as measures to facilitate the entry of new competitors in the domestic market. Unfortunately, the EC decided to prohibit the agreement. An important opportunity for a consolidated representation in the European aviation market has been lost. We will adjust and continue. Our track record shows that we can succeed through challenging times.”
“The EC decision will have negative consequences for consumers as well as our country’s economy while it will benefit foreign competitors,” remarks Andreas Vgenopoulos, chairman of Marfin Investment Group. “Obviously we, as well as Aegean, will continue to do our best for the benefit of our staff, our shareholders and our passengers.”
The companies say they will review the final EC decision, the text of which they received on January 26, and “following internal consideration and consultation with their advisers” will decide whether to pursue “possible further actions within the framework of existing legislation”.