According to insiders, the EU Commission is leaning towards approving the takeover of the Italian state airline ITA Airways by Lufthansa.

This was reported to the news agency Reuters by three people familiar with the matter. However, the EU Commission has not yet made a final decision, they said on Thursday. The official deadline for this ends on July 4. The decision by the Brussels authority is expected at the end of the month. The EU Commission, Lufthansa and the Italian Ministry of Finance declined to comment.

The EU competition authority is examining Lufthansa's acquisition of an initial 41 percent stake in Alitalia's successor ITA with regard to the consequences for competition. Long-haul flights between Italy and North America have recently been the most difficult point. The EU Commission fears disadvantages due to rising ticket prices or a poorer offer for consumers.

According to insiders, Lufthansa proposed to keep ITA Airways out of a joint venture with United Airlines and Air Canada for two years and thus forego the advantages of shared routes and flight schedules. It was previously said that this was not enough for the EU Commission. On European routes, Lufthansa and ITA offered to give up 40 take-off and landing rights (slots) at Milan Linate Airport, which they would cede to their competitors Easyjet and Volotea. Lufthansa is still working on remedies to address any remaining concerns of the EU antitrust authority, said one of the insiders.

(Contributed by Klaus Lauer in Berlin and Giuseppe Fonte in Rome, edited by Olaf Brenner. If you have any queries, please contact the editorial team at frankfurt.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com)

- by Foo Yun Chee