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New snag in ITA-Lufthansa deal?


The deal reached last spring for Lufthansa Group to buy 41% of the shares in Italy's ITA Airways appears to have hit a snag on its way to final approval, and Italian officials are blaming EU bureaucrats for the holdup.

Under the deal, Lufthansa is set to become the new parent for ITA, which replaced bankrupt Alitalia as Italy's flag carrier, but the deal requires approval by the EU competition and financial regulators who allowed Italy's state investment in ITA in the first place.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has accused the EU of standing in the way for no reason, saying "Something curious is going on. The same European Commission which asked us for years to find a solution to the ITA problem, then blocks it when we do come up with a solution."

EU regulators, on the other hand, say they are looking closely at the deal and that they are only following normal procedure, not holding up the deal, and that Italy and Lufthansa have not submitted all required information. The deal was expected to be complete in the last quarter of 2023, and it is not clear if that date can still be met.

Meanwhile, Portugal is moving ahead with its plans to privatize TAP Portugal, which came under state ownership during the pandemic crisis, and which only recently returned to profitability. The Portuguese government is set to pass a bill laying out the procedure later this week, and says it is working with the EU. Both AirFrance/KLM and International Airlines Group are expected to bid.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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