Court rejects LOT challenge to Lufthansa, easyJet deals for Air Berlin assets ‌

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A European Union Court has rejected a bid by LOT Polish Airlines to contest the Commission-approved purchase of parts of collapsed German carrier Air Berlin (AB1) by Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and easyJet. 

Air Berlin (AB1) filed for insolvency on August 15, 2017 after shareholder Etihad withdrew financing. The German carrier ceased operations on October 28, 2017. 

Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and easyJet signed deals for certain Air Berlin (AB1) assets, including aircraft, staff and takeoff and landing slots at various airports. The European Commission approved the deals, although Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) had to make concessions and also dropped a plan to acquire Air Berlin (AB1) unit Niki. 

LOT challenged the Commission’s decision, stating that its analysis, in terms of methodology and results, were incorrect.   

“By its judgments of 20 October 2021, the General Court dismisses those actions,” the General Court of the European Union, based in Luxembourg, ruled. 

Regarding the issue of slots, the court said in its assessment that as Air Berlin (AB1) had already ceased operations by the time Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and easyJet acquired the carrier’s slots, those slots were no longer linked to specific origins and destination points (O&D). 

“In so far as Air Berlin’s (AB1) slots were not associated with any O & D market, the General Court considers that the Commission rightly pointed out that the slots could be used by Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and easyJet, respectively, in O & D markets other than those in which Air Berlin (AB1) operated,” the court stated.

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