December 19, 2017 / 5:25 PM / a year ago

Lufthansa to gain EU approval for Air Berlin unit LGW acquisition: sources

FILE PHOTO - Planes of German air carrier Lufthansa AG are seen on the tarmac at Frankfurt airport in Frankfurt, Germany, June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) is set to secure EU antitrust approval for its acquisition of insolvent Air Berlin’s subsidiary LGW after agreeing to give up some Dusseldorf airport slots and not seek new ones, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The German carrier originally wanted to buy Air Berlin’s other unit, Austrian airline Niki as well, but scrapped the plan last week after the European Commission indicated it would veto the deal.

That had already led to the grounding of Niki, the latest casualty in the aviation industry this year after the demise of Monarch and Air Berlin. Alitalia has also filed for insolvency protection.

The European Commission, which is scheduled to rule on the LGW deal by Dec. 21, declined to comment. Lufthansa also declined to comment.

LGW is a regional carrier which flew turboprop planes under a wet lease deal for Air Berlin. It is flying under a wet lease contract for Lufthansa’s Eurowings, meaning Eurowings is leasing the crewed planes from LGW.

Niki’s slots, among its most attractive assets, will remain in its possession as long as the Austrian transport ministry examines its insolvency filing.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Frankfurt, editing by Robin Emmott

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