London – European Union competition regulators unconditionally cleared a planned merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines that will create the world’s largest airline.
The EU’s executive commission said it concluded the merger of the two US carriers would not “significantly impede effective competition” in Europe where they serve 35 destinations.
The proposed merger, which was announced in May, would have only a “limited” impact on European air cargo because of the carriers’ limited market presence.
The carriers’ passenger networks are complementary because they have hubs in five US cities so the merger would only lead to “small incremental increases” in their market shares.
The European Commission said its decision was without prejudice to an ongoing investigation into the A++ joint venture between the two US carriers and Lufthansa and Air Canada.
United and Continental, which are awaiting regulatory approval in the US, welcomed the Commission ruling.
“Approval from the European Commission is another important step toward completing our merger with United,” Continental Chief Executive Jeff Smisek said in a joint statement issued by the carriers.
“We continue to work cooperatively with the US Department of Justice toward an expeditious completion of our merger,” Glenn Tilton, chairman of United Airlines said.
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