E.U. regulators approve Greek airlines takeover

Oct 09, 2013, 5:48 AM EDT

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Commission has approved Aegean Airline's takeover of rival Olympic Air — even though it will leave Greece with a single dominant airline — because it thinks Olympic Air cannot survive on its own.

Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia says "the merger causes no harm to competition that would not have occurred anyway."

The commission blocked a proposed merger between the two in 2011 over concerns it would dominate the Greek market. Since then, the airlines have cut the number of routes on which they offer competing flights.

Almunia said Greece's government debt crisis caused a 26 percent fall in passenger traffic out of Athens between 2009 and 2012. A further decline is expected this year.

Aegean is buying Olympic from Marfin Investment Group for 72 million euros ($98 million).