대한항공-아시아나 합병, EU•美 난기류 만나
South Korea’s flagship air carrier Korean Air could face challenges in acquiring Asiana Airlines as the U.S. reportedly weighs up a lawsuit against its planned merger, following concerns raised by EU antitrust regulators earlier.
Korean Air says it’ll do all it can to make the merger happen.
Our Lee Rae-hyun has more.
There’s turbulence up ahead for Korean Air’s planned acquisition of Asiana Airlines with the United States and the European Union looking to ground any takeover.
On Friday, the U.S. newspaper Politico, reported that the U.S. Justice Department is considering legal action to block the acquisition process.
The deal was struck in November 2020 but since then, following over two years of investigations, Washington says the acquisition may hurt competition on overlapping routes to the U.S.
It also said the merger would give one company too much control over cargo transportation of key goods like microchips.
Following the report, Korean Air said the Justice Department had not made any official decision adding that it would continue to talk with the U.S. government until there’s a final decision.
The EU, too, also sent a statement of objection.
EU antitrust regulators on Wednesday said Korean Air’s proposed acquisition may restrict competition in passenger and cargo air transport services between Europe and South Korea.
A final decision is expected in August.
To tame these concerns analysts say a condition whereby Korean Air and Asiana would give up flights to other airlines on routes where they have large market shares appears to be inevitable.
A similar condition was already flagged by the UK’s competition authority when the merger was approved earlier in March.
Korean Air currently has 10 slots a week and Asiana 7 slots but the latter will be given to Virgin Atlantic after the merger.
The deal between South Korea’s number one and number two airlines was arranged by Asiana’s creditors and led by the state-run Korea Development Bank.
Should the deal finally be approved Korean Air would become the biggest shareholder in indebted Asiana.
The company has received approval from 11 countries out of 14, including Australia, Singapore, and China, and now awaiting a decision from the U.S., Japan, and the EU.
Japan reportedly said it will make a decision based on the conclusion of the EU and the U.S.
The final decision industry insiders expect will be delivered next year at the earliest.
Lee Rae-hyun, Arirang News.
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2023-05-19, 21:00 (KST)