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Brussels, 30th July 2010

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed merger between Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the planned merger between Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, both Greek airlines active in passenger air transport. The Commission’s initial market investigation indicated that the proposed merger could raise serious competition concerns, in particular because the merged entity would have very high, if not monopolistic, market shares on all domestic routes and on a number of international routes where both parties operate. The Commission also has serious doubts as to the compatibility of the transaction with the Merger Regulation in connection with the provision of Public Service Obligation routes in Greece and the provision of ground handling services in Greece. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 7 December 2010, to take a final decision on whether the merger would significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: “The Commission must make sure that consumers and businesses will continue to have a competitive choice of airline services in Greece, both as regards fares and routes, in particular at a time of difficult economic circumstances.”

On 24 June 2010, the Commission received a notification of a proposed concentration whereby the Vassilakis Group of companies, Marfin Investment Group and the Laskaridis Group of companies would acquire joint control over a newly merged company including the businesses of the following previously independent Greek companies:

  • Aegean Airlines S.A.

  • Olympic Air S.A., Olympic Handling S.A. ("Olympic Handling") and Olympic Engineering S.A ("Olympic Engineering") (collectively "Olympic").

Vassilakis invests in car rental, car leasing, car import and car distribution, ground handling, and aviation (through Aegean Airlines).

Marfin invests in food and beverage, shipping (notably through Attica Group, which owns Superfast Ferries and Blue Star Ferries), air transport (through Olympic Air), ground handling (through Olympic Handling), maintenance, repair and overhaul services (through Olympic Engineering), healthcare, real estate, IT & telecoms, tourism and leisure, and financial services.

Laskaridis invests in aviation (through Aegean Airlines), ground handling, shipping and shipyards, tourism, and real estate sectors.

Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air both provide passengers and cargo air transport.

Olympic is, in addition, active in the provision of ground handling services and the provision of maintenance, repair and overhaul services.

The Commission’s initial investigation found that the proposed transaction would lead to very high market shares and even monopolies on many domestic routes in Greece and also on a number of international routes.

Further doubts arise in connection with the market for the provision of Public Service Obligation routes in Greece and with the provision of ground handling services in a number of Greek airports. As to the Public Service Obligation routes, the transaction would bring together the two strongest and most credible bidders as compared to smaller rivals in tenders for routes operated in monopoly in exchange for a subsidy. As to ground handling, the transaction leads at least to a vertical relationship between the parties at a number of Greek airports.

More information on the case is available at :

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