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IP/99/343

Brussels, 25th May 1999

Commission approves the acquisition of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport Holding by a consortium of Hochtief and Frankfurt Airport

The European Commission has decided to approve the acquisition of Berlin Brandenburg Airport Holding GmbH (BBF) by a consortium of the construction company Hochtief AG, Frankfurt Mainz Airport AG (FAG), the electrical group ABB and the retail bank Bankgesellschaft Berlin AG. The BBF, which is owned by of the German Federation and the Berlin and Brandenburg states, operates the three Berlin airports Tegel, Tempelhof and Schoenefeld. As part of the plan to concentrate air traffic in the Berlin region to a single airport, the consortium wants to develop Schoenefeld in an international airport to be known as Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, which will also be operated by the consortium. The concentration involves corporate links between Berlin Airport, Frankfurt Airport and indirectly through Hochtief with the Duesseldorf Airport. The Commission's examination concluded that the project does not lead to a negative influence on the competitive relationships, since there is no overlap between the airport catchment areas.

Frankfurt Airport is by far the leading German airport with approximately one third of all German passengers. The Duesseldorf Airport, in which the consortium member Hochtief, part of the RWE group, has a stake, ranks number three, followed by Berlin airports at number four. Nevertheless, the concentration does not lead to the creation or the strengthening of a dominant position. The markets for the provision of air traffic infrastructure (e.g. runways) are determined by the catchment areas of the respective airports. These areas vary in size, depending whether the flights for which passengers are 'catched' are regional (Germany and Europe-wide) or intercontinental. There is no overlap between Berlin Airport and the Frankfurt and Duesseldorf airports for regional flights. As far as intercontinental flights are concerned there is a marginal overlap between the Berlin and Frankfurt catchment areas, which would not lead to the conclusion of substantial competitive relationships between both airports.

This situation would change, if the airport of Berlin, where presently intercontinental traffic is not of major importance, should be developed on a long-term basis into a hub airport. In this case passengers for intercontinental flights would to a significant extent be passengers brought to Berlin by feeder flights. However, Berlin would not only be in competition with the two German hub airports Frankfurt and Munich. Berlin Airport would then rather be active on a market in which the other western European hub airports, for instance London, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, would also have to be included. In view of the importance of these airports the link between Frankfurt and Berlin would not result in the creation of a dominant position on this market.

Because of the limited catchment areas of Duesseldorf Airport and the very limited intercontinental traffic movements from Duesseldorf to certain areas, substantial competitive links between Frankfurt and Duesseldorf do not exist. Therefore, it can not be assumed that the cooperation between Hochtief and FAG in the Berlin consortium would lead to a coordination of competitive behaviour between Frankfurt and Duesseldorf Airport.


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