(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG is hoping the European Commission will water down its stance on competition as the German carrier formally begins the process of acquiring a stake in Italy’s ITA Airways.
Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said lawmakers in Brussels need to give the continent’s carriers permission to compete “in the global league.”
“ITA was our priority, we’re now working on making this possible, taking it through European authorities and then we’ll look at the next possible steps of consolidation,” he said, speaking to Bloomberg Television at the International Air Transport Association meeting in Istanbul.
“The EU Commission put itself somewhat into a corner,” added Spohr, whose group controls the national carriers in Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and seperately runs a regional airline in Italy. “I’m positive we will find a solution.”
The continent’s biggest airlines are advancing consolidation.
Italy agreed to sell 41% of ITA to Lufthansa for €325 million ($348 million), while British Airways-parent IAG SA has started its second attempt at seeking regulatory approval for taking over Spain’s Air Europa, which would add to its portfolio of airlines spread across the UK, Spain and Ireland.
Portugal’s flag carrier TAP could be the next minor player to be swallowed into a larger airline group, though Spohr on Sunday said it was too early to consider whether Lufthansa will make a move.
--With assistance from Albertina Torsoli and Guy Johnson.
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