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   The Commission today approved the agreement signed by Air France,  Sabena
   and the Belgian State on 10 April and notified to it on 7 September under
   the merger control Regulation.

   The  agreement, which provides for Air France to take a 37.58%  stake  in
   the  capital  of  Sabena  and  grants  specific  contractual  rights   to
   Air France,  will  bring  about a permanent change in  the  structure  of
   Sabena and displays concentrative characteristics.  Since the matter  was
   so complex and since the parties had acted in good faith, the  Commission
   decided  that the belated notification of the agreement under  Regulation
   (EEC) No 4064/89 should not lead to the imposition of a fine.

   However,  the  Commission  identified  a number of  areas  in  which  the
   operation  would  create or strengthen a dominant position  for  the  new
   entity  on the market, namely routes between Belgium and  France,  routes
   between  Europe  and  Africa, routes to third  countries  in  Europe  but
   outside EFTA, and slots at Zaventem Airport.

   As  a result, Air France, Sabena and the Belgian and French  States  have
   entered into the commitments set out below.

   Sir Leon Brittan,  the Commission Member with special responsibility  for
   competition policy, commented:

   "There was undoubtedly a real, but limited competition problem  presented
   by  the plan as originally notified.  I am satisfied, however,  that  the
   commitments entered into deal adequately with those problems and that the
   plan can now be allowed to go ahead on that basis."

   The commitments are as follows:

   -  As regards the routes between Belgium and France, the Commission noted
      that  a monopoly would be created on the Brussels-Lyon,  Brussels-Nice
      and Brussels-Paris routes.  It has been agreed that, on the first  two
      routes,  one of the companies will withdraw to make room for at  least
      one  rival airline.  The corresponding slots as well as the  necessary
      airport facilities will be granted to the new entrant or entrants.  An
      interlining agreement will be concluded with the new entrant or

                                     - 2 -

        entrants  if this is requested.  On the Paris-Brussels route,  where
        an Air France-Sabena shuttle service is planned, the Commission  has
        secured  a commitment that other Community airlines will be able  to
        operate  on this route as many flights as Air France and Sabena  and
        with similar timetables to those offered by the two  airlines.  Such
        a  commitment may involve the surrender of slots by  Air France  and
        Sabena  up  to  a  maximum  of ten  per  day  and  per  airport.  An
        interlining agreement will be concluded with any new entrants who so
        request.  Commitments  relating  to frequent-flyer  programmes  have
        also been entered into by Air France and Sabena.

   -  As regards flights to and from Africa, the two airlines, in return for
      the  dominant  position observed on some routes,  have  undertaken  to
      abandon certain flights once a rival airline appears on the market.

        In  the case of Air France, this is the weekly flight from Paris  to
        Kigali  and Bujumbura, with it being possible for the rival  airline
        to  combine at some intermediate point the  Kigali/Bujumbura  flight
        with the Nairobi flight.

        In  the case of Sabena, this is the weekly flight from  Brussels  to
        Niamey, Ougadougou and Bamako, with it being possible to combine  at
        an intermediate point this flight with the Bangui flight.

        The  necessary slots and airport facilities will be granted  to  the
        rival airline or airlines, with which an interlining agreement  will
        be concluded if this is requested.

   -  As  regards flights to Hungary and Turkey (Ankara), on which  the  two
      airlines  enjoy a dominant position in the geographical  area  between
      Paris  and  Brussels, multidesignation  will  be  practised.  However,
      given  the  relatively  low  volume  of  traffic  on  these   flights,
      multidesignation will apply only above a ceiling of 100 000 passengers
      a year for each of the two airlines.

   -  In  order to ensure that, as a result of their development plans,  the
      two airlines do not enjoy a dominant position on all the routes out of
      Brussels,  slots will have to be left available for  other  companies.
      In  this  connection,  the two airlines have  undertaken  to  restrict
      themselves  at Zaventem Airport and for a ten-year period to a  number
      of  slots equal to 65% of the slots available for each sliding  period
      of  two  hours, this ceiling being combined with an  availability  for
      Air France  and  Sabena  of 75% of slots for each  sliding  period  of
      60 minutes.

   -  In  order to ensure that Air France and Sabena comply fully  with  the
      undertakings  entered  into,  the  Commission  has  secured  from  the
      national  authorities  concerned the promise that they will  take  the
      necessary  measures  to ensure that airlines  outside  the  Air France
      group  and  the  Sabena  group will be  able  to  operate  the  routes
      surrendered  by  Air France  and  Sabena and to  compete  on  all  the
      European routes out of the airports concerned.

   In view of the commitments entered into, the Commission has decided  that
   the operation is compatible with the common market.

   Contact for the press: Peter Guilford

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