Norway’s competition regulator, Konkurransetilsynet, has raised concerns about Norwegian Air Shuttle’s planned acquisition of domestic carrier Wideroe, indicating that it is considering blocking the deal. The competition authority, in its ongoing assessment, fears that the acquisition could weaken competition in the Norwegian aviation market, potentially leading to higher ticket prices and reduced route options for passengers.
Norwegian Air Shuttle revealed its intention to acquire Wideroe for NKr1.13 billion ($105 million) in July, with hopes to finalize the transaction by the end of this year. However, Konkurransetilsynet initiated a probe into the deal in September, and based on its initial assessment, the regulator remains apprehensive about the potential impact on market competition.
Competition director Tina Soride emphasized the concern, stating, “The acquisition leads, among other things, to us going from three to two players on several domestic flight routes. We see that there is a real risk that competition in the market could be weakened in a way that leads to higher ticket prices and worse route offers for Norwegian air passengers.”
The regulator specifically highlighted the routes where Norwegian and Wideroe currently compete against each other, citing direct competition on routes such as Bergen to Stavanger and Trondheim. Additionally, it expressed concerns about indirect routes operated via Oslo.
Konkurransetilsynet has now formally notified Norwegian Air Shuttle of its intentions to consider blocking the acquisition, detailing the specific competition concerns that have emerged during its assessment. The airline will have an opportunity to respond to these concerns before a final decision is made.
Source: Flight Global