By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, April 11 Aegean Airlines is
set to face a lengthy investigation by EU antitrust regulators
into its second bid for Olympic Air which could force
the Greek carrier to offer more concessions, sources said.
Aegean submitted a set of concessions to the European
Commission last month in an attempt to win approval for the
deal, but did not provide details.
Merging airlines typically offer to divest slots - or rights
to operate specific flights - and give rivals access to frequent
flyer programmes to allay authorities' concerns that competition
will be reduced by tie-ups.
"The Commission is expected to open an in-depth
investigation into the case," one of the people familiar with
the matter said on Thursday.
Such investigations last 90 working days, which would mean
the EU competition authority extending its deadline to decide on
the deal from April 23 to the second half of the year.
Aegean sees the 72-million-euro ($94.21 million) deal as
crucial for its survival in the shrinking Greek air transport
market as the bailed-out country faces a protracted recession.
EU regulators rejected its 170-million-euro offer for
debt-ridden Olympic, owned by Marfin Investment Group (MIG) in
2011, citing the proposed merged entity's quasi-monopoly of the
Greek air market and the lack of interest from any prospective
($1 = 0.7642 euros)
(Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)