Aegean Airlines won European Union approval to buy “failing” Olympic Air and form Greece’s biggest carrier as the likely collapse of Olympic trumped regulators’ antitrust concerns.
Aegean’s bid for its nearest rival was cleared by EU merger-review authorities on Wednesday, two years after the Brussels-based watchdog blocked a previous attempt because it would create a Greek air monopoly.
Aegean would emerge as the sole Greek domestic carrier anyway because Olympic was likely to close in the near future, the EU said in an e-mailed statement.
“It is clear that, due to the ongoing Greek crisis and given Olympic’s own very difficult financial situation, Olympic would be forced to leave the market soon,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in the statement. “We approved the merger because it has no additional negative effect on competition.”