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Norwegian Competition Authority Approves Norwegian Air’s Acquisition of Wideroe

 |  December 21, 2023

The Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) has given the green light to the planned acquisition of Wideroe by Norwegian Air, reversing its previous warning that the deal could face opposition.

The acquisition, valued at 1.13 billion Norwegian crowns ($110 million), was initially announced in July. However, concerns were raised by the competition watchdog about the potential impact on competition within the Norwegian aviation market. The NCA had expressed apprehension that the deal could significantly weaken competition, leaving only two major carriers, Norwegian Air and SAS, to vie for customers in the country.

Tina Soereide, the head of the Norwegian Competition Authority, stated on Thursday, “We have now concluded that this acquisition will not significantly hinder effective competition in the Norwegian aviation market.” The decision comes after a meticulous examination of extensive documentation provided by the involved parties and other stakeholders in the market.

Read more: Norwegian’s Wideroe Acquisition Faces Regulatory Hurdles

Wideroe, Scandinavia’s largest regional-only airline, plays a crucial role in serving short-haul routes in a region characterized by sparse population, limited train lines, and challenging geography. Despite initial concerns, the competition authority found insufficient grounds to block the acquisition.

Geir Karlsen, CEO of Norwegian Air, expressed satisfaction with the decision, stating, “We are very happy with today’s decision from the NCA and that they have taken our inputs into account.” The approval marks a significant development for both companies, providing a pathway for the planned merger to proceed.

Wideroe’s CEO, Stein Nilsen, assured that the airline would continue to operate as a separate entity with its distinct brand. Nilsen emphasized his eagerness to collaborate with Norwegian Air and underlined the commitment to keeping critical public infrastructure under Norwegian ownership. “I couldn’t wish for a better Christmas present,” he added.

The approval signifies a consolidation in the Norwegian aviation landscape, with Norwegian Air and SAS emerging as the main players. The impact of this decision on the dynamics of air travel within Norway will undoubtedly be closely watched in the coming months.

Source: Reuters