The Norwegian Competition Authority unconditionally approves an airline merger after initially raising price effect concerns in their Statement of Objections, illustrating COVID- 19’s impact on the empirical estimation of merger effects (Norwegian/Widerøe)

July 2, 2024

Airline consolidation has increased post-pandemic, with notable mergers like JetBlue/Spirit, Lufthansa/ITA, IAG/Air Europa, Norwegian/Widerøe, Alaska/Hawaiian, and Air France-KLM’s involvement in SAS’s recapitalization.

The Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) recently approved the Norwegian/Widerøe merger despite initial concerns about its impact on competition. These concerns included unilateral effects on domestic overlap routes, coordinated effects in the Norwegian market, and vertical effects due to Widerøe’s ground handling services.

In this Concurrences article, CRA’s Daniel Donath, Michael Muehlbradt, and Uğur Akgün contribute their expert insights to highlight challenges of using empirical analysis to assess merger effects not only in the aviation industry but also more widely when the relevant period includes the pandemic.