Norway’s competition authority has reversed an earlier decision and cleared Norwegian Air’s pending takeover of a smaller rival, short-haul carrier Widerøe. Both airlines were pleased by the early Christmas gift.
“They (Widerøe) couldn’t have a better owner,” claimed airline analyst Hans Jørgen Elnæs, calling Norwegian “a safe and good industrial owner” even though it recently emerged from bankruptcy proceedings initiated during the Corona crisis.
The takeover is valued at NOK 1.1 billion and comes after the competition authority (Konkurransetilsynet) intially had been highly skeptical and demanded more information. “It’s been necessary to conduct a thorough evaluation” of the deal, said the regulator’s director Tina Søreide. She and her colleagues had feared it would weaken competition and lead to higher airfares, but not any longer.
Instead Widerøe will continue as a separate airline with its own identity, organization and headquarters in Bodø. Local authorities think it will improve competition and lower fares on its routes to small airports in outlying districts, especially in Northern Norway.