Brussels has approved the £220 million sale of a 31% stake to Air France/KLM first announced in 2017. Delta holds a 49% stake, which it bought in 2012, with the remaining 20% of shares held by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Branson himself becoming chairman of the airline.
The European Commission said the transaction “would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area” despite a small number of overlapping routes.
The investigators said: “None of the overlapping routes raises competition concerns despite a small number of routes with high combined market shares, because (a) the overlapping routes are direct/indirect overlaps; (b) Virgin Atlantic, Delta and Air France-KLM are not close competitors and they continue to face significant competition from other carriers on the routes where the activities of both airlines overlap.”
The Commission had previously approved the Virgin/Delta deal in 2013. Virgin and its partners Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital are currently in negotiations to acquire Flybe in a one pence per share deal that would see the consortium invest £100 million into the troubled airline.
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