December 4, 2017 / 12:21 PM / 2 years ago

Lufthansa CEO: prepared to give up most of Niki slots to get EU approval

Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr delivers his speech in Berlin, Germany, October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) is prepared to give up a large part of carrier Niki’s airport slots in order to get EU approval for the acquisition of the Air Berlin unit, its chief executive said on Monday.

Lufthansa is also planning to buy Air Berlin unit LGW plus take on other planes from the insolvent carrier but the EU Commission, which is concerned about Lufthansa’s potential dominance in Germany as a result of the plan, last week extended its deadline for a decision on the deal to Dec. 21.

“We will take over Niki with virtually no slots, if that means we get approval from the European Commission,” Spohr said on Monday at a press briefing in Frankfurt.

Spohr said Lufthansa was in very constructive talks with the authorities but was working on a Plan B should the deal fail.

He said that Lufthansa could also grow organically by finding 20 planes itself, rather than via the Niki takeover.

In contrast, British budget carrier easyJet’s (EZJ.L) plans to buy part of Air Berlin’s operations at Tegel are expected to be approved without concessions, sources told Reuters on Monday.

Reporting by Patricia Weiss; Writing by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Christoph Steitz

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