European airline CEOs say industry consolidation vital

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 5:44 AM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Further consolidation of Europe’s airlines was necessary to keep the industry competitive, the CEOs of British Airways owner IAG and Ryanair said on Wednesday, as the EU weighs a new deal.

“If we don’t allow consolidation in Europe, we will destroy airlines in Europe,” IAG CEO Luis Gallego told an aviation conference.

The European Commission is due to decide this week whether to allow Lufthansa to acquire a 41% minority stake in ITA Airways. EU antitrust regulators warned in January that the deal could reduce competition in flights to and from Italy.

“(Portugal’s) TAP has only survived through COVID because the taxpayer…if you look at those airlines, AerLingus was acquired by IAG … those airlines have been much the better and have a more secure future as part of bigger airlines. It does need to be encouraged,” Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said.

(Reporting by Julia Payne and Joanna Plucinska, Editing by Louise Heavens)