Brussels - The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of UK regional air carrier Flybe by Connect Airways, a consortium by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Aviation and Cyrus. The decision is conditional on full compliance with commitments offered by Connect Airways and concerns the proposed acquisition by Connect Airways of Flybe, Propius Holdings Ltd and Stobart Air Unlimited Company.
Connect Airways is a consortium founded by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Aviation and Cyrus. Through the consortium, the three companies will jointly control Flybe, Propius and Stobart Air following the merger.
The Commission investigated the impact of the proposed transaction on the market for air transport of passengers on routes from British airports to other European airports as well as some intra-UK routes.
The Commission’s investigation found that the transaction, as initially notified, would have led to quasi-monopolies on two direct European routes, namely Birmingham - Amsterdam and Birmingham - Paris. This quasi-monopoly situation would result from Air France-KLM acquiring indirect control over Flybe, via its joint control over Virgin Atlantic. The Commission approved the joint acquisition of Virgin Atlantic by Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin group in February 2019. The Commission also noted that entry of competitors into these routes would be difficult, considering that both Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports are very congested airports.