Airlines claim new benefits for customers
Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines today (March 24) announced they are expanding their partnership.
The two carriers will offer code-share services on flights between Germany and Belgium and other European destinations when their summer timetable comes into effect on March 29.
The two carriers said they would also launch a reciprocal frequent flyer programme and business travellers using either carrier will have access to both airlines' lounges.
Brussels Airlines also plans to move into the same terminal at Hamburg Airport at the end of this month.
The move comes as the EC is continuing its "in-depth" investigation into the proposed tie up between the two airlines.
When launching its probe in January, the EC said that its initial investigation indicated the takeover by Lufthansa could "significantly impede effective competition."
Under the proposed take over deal, the German carrier said it would buy a 45% stake in Brussels Airlines for €65m with an option to buy the remaining 55% by 2011.
The EC said its initial investigation indicated the deal would create a monopoly on three routes.
These were from Brussels to Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich.
It would also "substantially reduce" competition on routes from Brussels and Berlin.
The EC was also concerned about competition on two other routes, Brussels to Zurich and Brussels to Geneva.
The EC said that Lufthansa had offered remedies these worries but they were "not sufficiently clear cut to remove serious doubts" identified by the initial probe.
The Commission has until June 10 to deliver its verdict.
The EC is also investigating Lufthansa's proposed take over of Austrian Airlines over concerns of possible state aid by the Austrian government.
http://ec.europa.eu/ www.lufthansa.com www.brusselsairlines.com