City A.M. Reporter
LUFTHANSA could still win quick European Union regulatory approval for its planned takeover of Austrian Airlines if it makes concessions within days, the European Commission said yesterday.<br /><br />Speed is crucial for the deal because the German carrier can walk away if it does not get a green light by 31 July -- much earlier than the formal deadline the Commission set earlier this week when it extended its review of the acquisition.<br /><br />Asked whether such a quick approval was still on the cards, Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said: “It is possible. But it is on the condition that Lufthansa comes up with satisfactory remedies within the next few days, otherwise the deadline is 6 November.”<br /><br />The Commission, the European Union’s executive body, said earlier this week it was concerned about a lack of competition on routes from Vienna to Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne, Zurich, Geneva and Brussels if the deal went through.<br /><br />It said Lufthansa had offered remedies, but not enough to convince the Commission, which therefore had to launch the in-depth probe of the deal.<br /><br />Lufthansa was not immediately available for comment. The airline said on Wednesday it was “surprised” by the EU’s extended review, but reaffirmed it was “confident” it could complete the takeover nevertheless.<br /><br />The EU is also reviewing the state aid that is part of the deal. Austria has agreed with Lufthansa to inject €500m (£379m) into loss-making Austrian Airlines to help cut the airline’s €1bn debt pile.<br /><br />If the deal fails, Austrian Airlines has said it would need to make drastic cutbacks to survive.