The Lufthansa Group’s proposed acquisition of ITA Airways, the Italian flag carrier, has been approved by the European Commission. First announced in May 2023, the deal will see Lufthansa Group initially take a 41% stake in ITA with options to acquire the remaining shares beginning in 2025.

The approval came after Lufthansa and the Italian government made multiple concessions to prevent fare increases or declines in quality of service. Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission, said the package of remedies on the deal proposed by Lufthansa and the MEF [the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance] “fully addresses our competition concerns by ensuring that a sufficient level of competitive pressure remains on relevant routes.”

To clinch the deal, Lufthansa and ITA agreed to transfer slots at Milan-Linate Airport to a short-haul competitor as well as enable one or two rival airlines to start nonstop flights between Rome or Milan and certain hubs in Central Europe.

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Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said the EU’s decision provides “a clear signal for strong air traffic in Europe, which can successfully assert itself in global competition.” In a statement, the airline group said it is now planning a “swift integration” of ITA Airways and its 5,000 employees, joining Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings in the Lufthansa Group.

Rome-Fiumicino will become the group’s sixth hub and, after the deal is closed, route networks will be linked through code sharing. The Italian airline will also become part of the group’s Miles & More loyalty program and will be able to leverage the group’s capacity for aircraft and fuel purchasing, according to Lufthansa.