EasyJet statement on EC approval of its Air Berlin acquisition

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The Air Berlin assets that easyJet proposes to acquire consist of assets and rights held by Air Berlin for part of its airline operations at Berlin Tegel airport, including slots at Berlin Tegel airport and at some destination airports, overnight parking stands associated with the acquired slots, Air Berlin's customer bookings in respect of the relevant operations, historic data relating to those assets, and certain aircraft furnishings and related equipment.

The Austrian transport ministry said it would repatriate any Niki passengers stranded overseas by cancelled flights.

The German government said it regrets the EU's stance and will do everything it can to limit the damage to taxpayers.

Niki said earlier that it had applied to open insolvency proceedings following Lufthansa's announcement that it had "informed Air Berlin and its insolvency managers that it will pursue the planned transaction without the purchase of Niki". This is especially hard for the employees.

Niki has nearly 1,000 employees, and grounding the airline will result in tens of thousands of travelers being stranded, with hundreds of thousands of tickets becoming voided, Air Berlin said Tuesday.

Niki's being grounded would add to Christmas period disruptions for European flyers, with the collapse of Britain's Monarch in October and with Ryanair hit by problems with pilots and facing strikes. "Several airlines are now looking into solutions for bringing back passengers on standby-basis for a small fee from destinations back to Germany, Austria and Switzerland". Instead of buying Niki, Lufthansa will focus on expanding its Eurowings discount brand without acquisitions, the German airline said Wednesday in a statement.

Lufthansa said on Wednesday it had offered to give up take-off and landing slots in order to get the deal approved, but that the European Commission considered that to be insufficient.

Air Berlin said separately that it's still looking at alternatives for the unit. Lufthansa and Air Berlin's administrators had also previously warned that would happen if the deal was not approved.

EasyJet said it expected to complete the purchase in the near future. It has a deadline of December 21 to approve the deal or open a longer investigation.

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