Norway’s competition watchdog is taking a closer look at Norwegian’s proposed acquisition of Widerøe, expressing fears that the deal could harm competition. The Norwegian Competition Authority has extended the deadline for a preliminary assessment of the acquisition by two months to Nov. 17, with a final deadline of Jan. 3, 2024.
The acquisition between two of Norway’s main carriers would be a milestone in the country’s aviation history, according to Norwegian CEO Geir Karlsen. He believes the move would create a more streamlined and comprehensive offer for air travel across Norway and abroad.
However, the Norwegian Competition Authority has stated that there could be reason to fear the acquisition will impact Norwegian air passengers negatively. This has prompted the government agency to extend the deadline for further evaluation.
OAG Schedules Analyser data currently shows that SAS is the largest operator in Norway’s domestic market, with a 39.1% capacity share this month. Similarly, Norwegian is the second largest with a 35% share, followed by Widerøe with 24.7%.
Norwegian’s domestic network spans 17 routes this month, mostly connecting to Oslo Gardermoen Airport to Widerøe’s hubs such as Bergen, Trondheim, Bodø, and Tromsø. Widerøe, meanwhile, provides 77 domestic routes this month, including many public service obligation agreements with the Norwegian government.
Katrine Amdam, project manager at the Norwegian Competition Authority has said, “Our preliminary assessment is that there may be reason to fear that the acquisition will impact Norwegian air passengers negatively.”
Therefore, the government agency has decided to extend the deadline by two months, pushing it to Nov. 17, with a final deadline of Jan. 3, 2024. It is hoped that the extended deadline will offer the competition watchdog the necessary time to thoroughly review the proposed deal.
Source: Aviation Week