Following the latest negotiations, Lufthansa and the Italian government expect the EU Commission to approve Lufthansa's takeover of the state-owned Italian airline ITA Airways.

"We remain optimistic that we will soon find a solution with the Commission that makes business sense for us and promotes competition in Italy," said Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr in an interview with "Die Zeit" published on Wednesday. The talks are very far advanced after the negotiations had been on the verge of collapse several times.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance in Rome also expressed confidence on Tuesday evening. "We have responded today to the latest concerns of the European Commission and hope that this will allow the acquisition of a stake in ITA Airways by Lufthansa to be completed in a reasonably short time," the Italian government stated. Work is already underway to fulfill the conditions agreed with the Commission "so that the transaction can be completed in the coming months".

The responsible EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is leaning towards approving the purchase of an initial 41 percent of ITA by Lufthansa after a long struggle over competition conditions, as Reuters learned from insiders last week. In the longer term, the Alitalia successor is to become fully part of the Lufthansa Group. With these conditions, the EU wants to prevent the merger from leading to fewer services and higher ticket prices to the detriment of consumers. The decision is to be made by July 4.

The conditions include the surrender of around 40 take-off and landing rights (slots) for European connections at Milan Linate Airport, where Lufthansa/ITA would otherwise have a dominant market position. Lufthansa had to persuade competing airlines, Easyjet and Volotea, to use the slots for a flight offer. This has so far only been revealed by unnamed insiders. Spohr confirmed the conditions for Milan to the newspaper without naming any figures or airlines.

The agreement on long-haul flights from Rome to North America was more difficult - according to insiders, Lufthansa and ITA must allow competition from other airlines. In the interview, Spohr countered concerns about too little competition as a result of the merger: "Smaller airlines no longer have a chance of surviving in global competition on their own." ITA's predecessor Alitalia had only been kept alive for over 30 years with state subsidies, and the EU would rightly no longer allow this.

(Report by Ilona Wissenbach, edited by Ralf Banser. If you have any queries, please contact the editorial team at