Posts Tagged ‘European Commission’


[FT.com] British Airways stands to strengthen its grip on Heathrow by gaining the right to buy a large chunk of take-off and landing slots at the airport, as part of proposals Ryanair is offering European regulators to seek approval for its contentious takeover of Aer Lingus.

Ryanair is trying to secure regulatory approval for its third takeover bid for the Irish flag carrier.

Ryanair is trying to secure regulatory approval for its third takeover bid for the Irish flag carrier. Photo: Wikipedia

The UK flag carrier, the largest airline at Heathrow, has struck a deal with Ryanair to purchase more than 85 per cent of Aer Lingus’s slots at the airport, which are currently used to provide services to Dublin, Shannon and Cork, said three people familiar with the agreement between Ryanair and British Airways.

Heathrow is running at near full capacity, so the opportunity to buy Aer Lingus’s slots at the airport could provide British Airways with an important means to eventually expand its long-haul services

Last month, the European Commission objected to Ryanair’s bid on competition grounds. The commission prohibited Ryanair’s first bid for Aer Lingus in 2007, and Brussels has never cleared a merr that it previously rejected.

British Airways is offering to take responsibility for many of Aer Lingus’s services out of Heathrow for at least three years.

With British Airways operating these services, Ryanair is privately saying that a combined Ryanair-Aer Lingus would not be dominant on those routes, said people familiar with the Irish budget carrier’s stance.

However, British Airways would run these services in place of Aer Lingus for between three and five years – after that it would have the right to buy the Irish flag carrier’s Heathrow slots and reallocate them to different destinations, such as New York.

Aer Lingus is the third-largest airline at Heathrow, and British Airways would be able to purchase up to 20 pairs of slots for daily flights that are held by the Irish flag carrier at the airport…….

Read the full story at FT.com…..

 


Financial Times
By Andrew Parker in London and Alex Barker in Brussels
Dec 14th, 2012



[BBC News] The budget airline Ryanair has launched another attempt to buy its biggest Irish rival Aer Lingus.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "This offer represents a significant opportunity to combine Aer Lingus with Ryanair.... Photo:  Wikipedia

Michael O’Leary said: “This offer represents a significant opportunity to combine Aer Lingus with Ryanair.   Photo: Wikipedia

Ryanair says it plans to make a cash offer for Aer Lingus, which would value it at 694m euros ($883m; £561m). Ryanair will make the offer through a subsidiary called Coinside.

Ryanair already owns 30% of Aer Lingus.

On Monday, Ryanair’s existing holding was referred to the UK’s Competition Commission for a probe that could lead to it being forced to sell the stake.

When Ryanair tried to buy Aer Lingus in 2006, its attempt was blocked by the European Commission.

It said the 1.30 euro offer was a premium of 38.3% above Tuesday’s Aer Lingus closing price.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “This offer represents a significant opportunity to combine Aer Lingus with Ryanair, to form one strong Irish airline group capable of competing with Europe’s other major airline groups……

Read the full story at BBC News……

 


BBC News
19th June, 2012



[Reuters] The Libyan government took control of Tripoli’s international airport on Friday from the militia that has run it since Muammar Gaddafi was deposed last year, an important step in its struggle to assert its authority over numerous armed groups.

The ruling National Transitional Council now faces the challenge of showing it can maintain security and operate the North African country's busiest airport

The ruling National Transitional Council now faces the challenge of showing it can maintain security and operate the North African country's busiest airport

The ruling National Transitional Council now faces the challenge of showing it can maintain security and operate the North African country’s busiest airport, which reopened last November in the hands of the powerful Zintan militia.

“Tripoli airport is now under the government’s control. We have today transferred power to the interior, defence and transportation ministries,” Zintan militia spokesman Adel Salama said in a speech at the handover ceremony.

“We hope the government is able to take on and maintain such an important task.”

Elders and tribal leaders from Zintan, government and military officials gathered at the airport to witness celebrations for the handover, which followed months of argument about jobs and salaries for the militia’s members.

Last time negotiations broke down in March, the head of the 1,200-strong Zintan force, Mokhtar al-Akhdar, stormed out of a meeting and announced he would resign, in a dramatic show of frustration.

Akhdar said the government was not doing enough to provide jobs and security for the fighters who helped topple Gaddafi’s government last year. He was later brought back to take charge again until the handover…..

Read the full story at Reuters…..


By Ali Shuaib
TRIPOLI | Fri Apr 20, 2012



It has almost been a year since Louis Farrugia was appointed chairman of Air Malta – 11 months, to be exact.

Air Malta's restructuring plan calls for some €230 million to be invested in the airline - Photo: Airplane-Pictures.net

It is now time for him to look back and try and draw up some kind of overview of what has been done and what results have been achieved, and to look at the present challenges and try to look at possible future strategies.

It has, he tells me in an interview, been a very tough 11 months, with many board meetings – more than one a month. It is very clear that the task ahead is an enormous one. He and his team are trying to restructure an airline within the guidelines and targets set by the European Commission while at the same time keeping it operating, having continuous dialogue with the people employed by it as they decide about their future and motivating those who are staying as they adjust to a new work ethic, and holding talks with the government and stakeholders on the issues facing the airline.

The restructuring plan calls for some €230 million to be invested in the airline of which €128 million will be represented by an increase in share capital and the rest sourced from the airline’s own resources such as the sale of subsidiary companies, private sector funding through banks, etc.

This is a four-year plan: it is important not just to cut costs but also to find resources to reinvest.

It is also important to remember that, although Air Malta was profitable in the first years of its existence, and has contributed mightily to the country’s economy and tourism, today it is being asked to make a profit at a time of financial instability and intense competition – not just in pricing but also with regard to the numerous destinations that have been opened and that compete with Air Malta’s established routes.

The enormity of the task at hand can be understood also with regard to the EU negotiations, with guidelines that must be met and the articulation of a plan that fits within those guidelines.

Restructuring also includes negotiations with the unions, not just on voluntary restructuring but also on facilitating the transformation of the airline to a true commercial basis with the creation of a new organic structure with new appointments.

Negotiations with stakeholders included not only the government with regard to the increase in share capital, but also the banks as well as the commercial sector, such as the tourism trade and suppliers.

The approval by Cabinet to increase the company’s share capital by €128 million over the next four years was a very important step that has been taken as part of this restructuring exercise…..

Read the full story from The Malta Independant Online….


By Noel Grima
Article published on 15 April 2012



Budget airline faces European commission investigation of its arrangements with Carcassonne airport in southern France.

Ryanair's arrangements with European regional airports have been subject to a number of EU Commission inquiries. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

Ryanair's arrangements with European regional airports have been subject to a number of EU Commission inquiries. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

The European commission has opened another flank in hostilities with Ryanair by announcing an investigation of the financial arrangements between the budget airline and Carcassonne airport in France.

The inquiry follows similar scrutiny of affairs at a number of other European airports dealing with Ryanair and other low-cost airlines. The investigations are looking at whether subsidies given to the airports and marketing agreements with airlines breach EU rules on state aid.

Carcassonne airport, owned by the Languedoc-Roussillon region, served just under 400,000 passengers in 2010, virtually all Ryanair’s.

The commission says it “has doubts” whether public subsidies of at least €11m (£9.1m) between 2000 and 2010 for infrastructure projects at the airport were necessary and proportionate. Another €8m was given for operational activities. Meanwhile, the commission said, the airport gave Ryanair marketing support and discounts that “could give the airline an undue economic advantage”.

Ryanair has in the past withdrawn services from a French regional airport, Angoulême, when local authorities refused to continue subsidies.

The commission has recently also opened investigations into arrangements between Ryanair and airports in Germany and Austria. In 2004 it ordered Ryanair to repay funds from Belgian authorities to land planes at Charleroi airport – a ruling overturned four years later.

Ryanair has issued a series of  statements querying the EU’s investigations and rulings, as well as contrasting merger permissions, such as the British Airways acquisition of BMI, with its own thwarted takeover of Aer Lingus.

Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said: “While the commission repeatedly ignores state aid to flag carriers, it is currently investigating 17 different Ryanair airport agreements despite the fact that the European court (in 2008) dismissed the commission’s claims of state aid in the Charleroi case.”

He added: “Ryanair’s arrangements with all EU airports comply with competition rules. This latest commission goose-chase is hard to understand when at the same time it bans its bureaucrats from using low-fare airlines or even travelling to Charleroi airport.”

Full story at the Guardian….


Gwyn Topham
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 April 2012



Venezuela ’s state-run airline, Conviasa, has been banned from flying to countries in the European Union because of safety concerns, European transportation regulators said Tuesday.

Venezuela ’s state-run airline, Conviasa, has been banned from flying to countries in the European Union because of safety concerns

Venezuela ’s state-run airline, Conviasa, has been banned from flying to countries in the European Union because of safety concerns

The airline’s only European destination was Madrid. Most of its flights are within Venezuela but it also flies to Bogotá, Colombia; Buenos Aires; and several Caribbean islands.

A report by the European Commission  said that the Spanish authorities found “numerous serious safety deficiencies” during inspections of Conviasa planes.

The report also cited two fatal accidents involving Conviasa flights, including one in 2010 that, according to news reports, killed 17 people. It said that Conviasa failed to show it had taken adequate steps to prevent future accidents.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry rejected the action as disproportionate.

Full story from The New York Times….


By 
Published: April 4, 2012



The owner of British Airways, IAG, has received approval for the takeover of BMI from current owners Lufthansa. European authorities (EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESS RELEASE HERE) cleared the deal after IAG agreed to give up landing slots at Heathrow airport.

Together IAG, which also owns Iberia, and BMI would have controlled 53% of landing slots at Britain’s biggest airport.

Virgin Atlantic had fought BMI's takeover by IAG, the owner of British Airways

Virgin Atlantic had fought BMI's takeover by IAG, the owner of British Airways

Virgin urged regulators to block the deal saying that it distorts competition in the aviation market.  IAG reached a deal worth £172.5m ($273m) to buy BMI late last year.

The European Commission said its decision was conditional on the release of 14 slots at London’s Heathrow airport in order to allow other airlines greater access. It was also dependent on IAG committing to carry connecting passengers to feed the long-haul flights of competing airlines out of London Heathrow.

EU’s Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement: “The commitments package includes an appropriate number of very sought-after slots at London Heathrow as well as far-reaching feeder arrangements as regards connecting passengers.

IAG’s chief executive Willie Walsh said: “This is great news for Britain. Over time we will launch new long-haul routes to key trading nations that are currently not served from Heathrow, while supporting our short-haul network.

“This is good for UK business and UK consumers. We have already announced that British Airways will re-start flights from Belfast to Heathrow, maintaining important economic links”…..

Full story from the BBC here…..


BBC News
30 March 2012



Ryanair today said it has evidence that the European Commission discriminates against low-cost airlines.

At a press conference this morning, chief executive Michael O’Leary released copies of e-mails received from Amex, the commission’s travel agency confirming that it is not allowed to book low cost flights or reimburse travel expenses to and from Brussels Charleroi airport.

 

Ryanair seeks end to 'travel ban' by EU Commission

Ryanair seeks end to 'travel ban' by EU Commission

Ryanair also released a letter from the commission’s director for administration and Payment which stated “It is true that the terms of this contract do prevent Amex from booking tickets with ‘low-cost’ airlines.”

The airline has called on the commission to explain its policy and to end the ban on budget carriers.

Mr O’Leary first learned of the policy when he was invited by the commission to be a guest speaker at a conference last year. He was informed then that he could not be booked on a Ryanair flight to Charleroi, where the airline has a hub, and was offered a ticket on Aer Lingus to Zaventem, the main airport in Brussels.

Lawyers for Ryanair filed a formal complaint with the European Court of Auditors earlier this month, asking it to assess “the legality, regularity and financial soundness” of the travel policy…..

Full story from the Irish Times….


irishtimes.com: Thursday, March 29, 2012
CHARLIE TAYLOR



[Worldwide Business Review] International Airlines Group has offered a limited number of extra concessions to try to secure regulatory approval for its acquisition of BMI British Midland, Lufthansa’s lossmaking UK subsidiary.

IAG offers to give up 14 slots for EU approval: Photo: Flickr-Ingy

IAG offers to give up 14 slots for EU approval: Photo: Flickr-Ingy

IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia, has sweetened its offer to the European Commission by increasing the number of valuable take-off and landing slots at London’s Heathrow airport that it would relinquish under the proposed deal from 10 to 14.

In a high-stakes move, Lufthansa and IAG are increasing the pressure on the Commission to grant a quick approval of the deal by warning that BMI could face closure if Brussels proceeds with an in-depth investigation of the transaction that could last months.

Joaquín Almunia, EU competition commissioner, must decide by March 30 whether to approve IAG’s purchase under Brussels’ phase one inquiry process. He is travelling to Washington early next week, adding pressure to the negotiations with IAG.

IAG, Lufthansa and the Commission declined to comment.

Lufthansa wants to offload BMI rapidly because it is heavily lossmaking. BMI reported an operating loss of €199m in the year to December 31, up from €145m in 2010. It blamed its UK subsidiary for pushing the German flag carrier to a €13m net loss in 2011.

IAG is keen to buy BMI because it would give the Anglo-Spanish group the chance to expand at capacity constrained Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic, which failed with its bid for BMI, has been calling on regulators to block the IAG deal or extract big concessions on slots. Virgin has been highlighting the fact that BA, by combining with BMI, would become the sole provider of flights between Heathrow and Aberdeen, Basel, Edinburgh, Manchester and Nice.

By buying BMI for up to £172.5m in cash, IAG would increase its share of Heathrow slots from 44.8 per cent to …..

Read the full story at Worldwide Business Review…..


24th March 2012
Worldwide Business Review – Nicosia