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Etihad, Alitalia offer concessions in bid for EU approval for stake deal

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Etihad Airways and struggling Italian carrier Alitalia have offered concessions in a bid to win European Union antitrust approval for the Abu Dhabi airline's plan to acquire 49 per cent of Alitalia.

[BRUSSELS] Etihad Airways and struggling Italian carrier Alitalia have offered concessions in a bid to win European Union antitrust approval for the Abu Dhabi airline's plan to acquire 49 per cent of Alitalia.

The European Commission said on its website that it would decide by Nov 17 whether to clear the deal. It did not provide details of the concessions, in line with its usual policy.

The airlines have offered to give up some airport slots on the Rome-Belgrade route to facilitate rivals, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The carriers are likely to secure EU approval with minor concessions, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters in September.

In previous airline deals, the EU authority has demanded that airlines give up airport slots, facilitate rivals' access to connecting traffic or open up their frequent flyer programmes to ease competition concerns.

State-owned Etihad has minority stakes in Air Berlin , Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus, Air Serbia and Jet Airways, and is in the process of buying stakes in Alitalia and Swiss-based Etihad Regional.

Alitalia's 1.76-billion-euro (US$2.24 billion) rescue plan also involves existing shareholders including state-owned Poste Italiane.

REUTERS