THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has vetoed a proposed merger between Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air. Following a 10-month investigation, the EC ruled it would have resulted in a quasi-monopoly on the Greek air transport market.
Joaquín Almunia, the man in charge of EC competition policy, said the merger would push up prices and negatively impact service levels for passengers travelling betweenAthens and the islands.
"It is the duty of the commission to prevent the creation of monopolies when applying the EU merger control powers conferred on it by the member states," he said.
"My services and myself did our best to find a solution, but unfortunately the remedies offered by the companies would not have adequately protected the interests of the four million consumers that use the routes."
Theodore Vassilakis, chairman of Aegean, said the airline had offered commitments to safeguard consumers, as well as "measures to facilitate the entry of new competitors in the domestic market".
He said: "An important opportunity for a consolidated representation in the European aviation market has been lost. We will adjust and continue. Our track record shows that we can succeed through challenging times."
Andreas Vgenopoulos, chairman of the Marfin Investment Group, which owns Olympic Air, warned that the EC decision would have "negative consequences" for consumers as well as the Greek economy.