Easyjet challenges Air France-KLM merger
18 May 2004 , AMSTERDAM — British budget airline Easyjet has lodged an objection to the Air France takeover of KLM, claiming that the deal will reduce consumer choice.
18 May 2004
AMSTERDAM — British budget airline Easyjet has lodged an objection to the Air France takeover of KLM, claiming that the deal will reduce consumer choice.
Easyjet has filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, claiming that the European Commission was wrong to approve the takeover, Radio Netherlands reported on Tuesday.
In its petition, Easyjet asserts that Air France already dominates the French market more than any other national airlines. It also alleges that the Air France takeover of KLM will further reduce consumer choice, forcing prices up for French travellers.
The legal complaint aims to convince the court that the EC decision approving the takeover should be overturned. "The interests of consumers must always come first," Easyjet chief Ray Webster said in a statement.
The EC is unimpressed by the legal challenge, but a spokesman for EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said Easyjet is quite welcome to go to court, Dutch news agency nu.nl reported.
The commission is satisfied with the takeover of KLM by Air France and claims that adequate measures have been taken to safeguard competition. The new Air France-KLM holding company will give up 94 landing rights to its competitors.
"That is pro-consumer and pro-newcomers," the spokesman said.
The takeover also got the go ahead from shareholders earlier this month as Air France announced that 89.22 percent of the Dutch airline’s shareholders had offered their holdings to the French carrier.
But despite the large majority offering their shares, Air France extended its all-share offer to 21 May in a deal which will create the largest European airline and the third-biggest carrier in the world in terms of sales.
The takeover will see the French government reduce its stake in Air France from 54 percent to 44.7 percent of the Air France-KLM holding. KLM will take control of 19 percent of the new holding, while Air France will claim 37 percent.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch + French news