The European Commission Appraisal of Airline Mergers

airline mergersAirliners intending to implement mergers witheconomic effects in the EU aviation transportmarkets have to seek the previous authorizationof the European Commission under the EuropeanMerger Control Regulation (EMCR). Since 1989the Commission blocked two airliners mergers (Ryanair/Aer Lingus, Case M.4439 and Olympic/Aegean Airlines, Case M.5830) and conditionally cleared many more by agreeing with the parties on remedies to fix the expected competition problems. The commonest remedy is the divestiture of landing and taking off airport slots, although the effectiveness of these remedies was questioned because in some cases no competitors used the freed slots. The purpose of this article is to discuss the Commission policy on slot remedies. In particular, it focuses on the questions whether slot remedies are effective tools to resolve the competition problems arising out of airline mergers and which elements should be included in slot remedy packages in order to enhance their effectiveness. These are questions of practical relevance given the cautious approach of the Commission in clearing mergers on the basis of efficiency defence. Thus, offering a set of suitable remedies to restore competition may be the only way for the merging parties to obtain the go-ahead from the Commission for a problematic merger.
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Slot Trading: The New Proposal Of The European Commission

slot tradingOn 1st December 2011, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive package of measures whose declared aim is, among others, to address capacity shortage at European airports. The so called “better airports” package covers three main areas: slots, ground handling, and noise.

This article focuses on the proposed recognition of a secondary market for slots and presents the evolution of the Commission’s position on this topic since the adoption of Regulation No. 95/93 on common rules for the allocation of slots.

If the overall proposal of the Commission on slots has been partially criticized by the associations of airlines, the recognition of a secondary market for slots has been welcomed by the entire industry as a definite step forward that would favor decongestion of heavily congested European airports.
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Two New European Directives on Airport Charges: Airport Charges between Competition Law and Sector-Specific Regulation

By Jochen Meulman

In the past year, the European Communities’ legislative adopted a Directive regulating airport charges; meanwhile, a proposal for a Directive on airport security charges was submitted for approval by European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Although in many economic sectors in which third-party access to infrastructure is essential, access charges have been regulated at the EU level, airport tariffs had so far escaped direct and general European legal scrutiny. Indirectly, and on a case-by-case basis however, airport charges have been the subject of the EU’s attention, mainly in cases in which such charges were suspect from the view of European competition law. Now, finally, a common legal framework for setting airport charges has been devised, which will – at the very least – render such charges and the procedures leading up to their determination more transparent. Whether lower tariffs for the use of airport-related services will ensue from this new regulation, will be discussed in this contribution. After a brief description of the background to airport tariffs and their regulation under EU competition law hitherto, this contribution will identify denominators common to both mentioned directives. Next, both directives and their impact on airport charges will be discussed, with a focus on their overlap with EU competition law. Finally, two questions will be answered; (1) to what extent do EU competition law and the new Directives overlap? (2), will the new legislation lead to lower charges for airport users?

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