By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS Feb 20 Lufthansa, United
Airlines and Air Canada are set to win approval
from the European Union's competition regulator for their
transatlantic tie-up with their offer to give up airport slots,
a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The three airlines last year proposed giving up landing and
take-off slots at Frankfurt and New York's airports following a
three-year investigation by the European Commission into their
revenue-sharing, pricing and capacity pacts.
The EU antitrust authority sought feedback from rivals and
third parties in December last year.
"The Commission is likely to accept the airlines' proposal
with some fine tuning," said the person who declined to be named
because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Regulatory approval means the airlines will not be found
guilty of anti-trust infringement and will not face fines which
could reach 10 percent of a company's global revenues.
The Commission spokesman for competition policy could not
immediately be reached for comment.
The three carriers are all members of the Star Alliance of
airlines, the biggest such marketing group with 27 members
accounting for a quarter of global airline capacity.
Such alliances were set up in the 1990s to enable airlines
to extend their apparent networks without having to overcome the
industry's peculiar restrictions on international mergers.
This would be the second airline network cleared by the
Commission. It approved a tighter transatlantic tie-up between
British Airways, American Airlines and
Iberia in July 2010. All three are members of the broader
The EU watchdog is also currently investigating a
transatlantic joint venture between Air France-KLM,
Alitalia and Delta Airlines.