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Antitrust in the Skies: The United and Olympic Airline Mergers

Touro International Law Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2012

20 Pages Posted: 18 May 2011 Last revised: 11 Apr 2012

Justin Dickerson

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Date Written: May 12, 2011


This Article explores the 2010 merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines - which usurped Delta’s briefly-held title as the world’s largest airline - as well as the failed merger of Greece's two largest airlines, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, and the antitrust considerations associated with each of these transactions. Part II of this Article details the United and Continental merger, explaining pertinent portions of each airline’s corporate history over the past 10 years, which has included multiple other unsuccessful merger attempts. Next, Part III describes the circumstances surrounding the failed combination of Olympic and Aegean, including the role the Greek financial crisis played in their desire to merge. Part IV compares the United/Continental and Olympic/Aegean mergers, first discussing the legal standards the United States government and European Commission ("EC") employed in making their antitrust determinations, and then explaining key differences between the two unions - such as distinctions between the size and concentration of the U.S. and Greek/European airline markets, and Olympic/Aegean unwillingness to make compromises in light of the EC's initial findings - that might explain the opposite outcomes. This section also proposes that Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines could aid their future chances of success, should either decide to attempt to merge with the other or another airline, by working more collaboratively with the EC to achieve compromises and reasonable alternatives. Finally, Part V concludes by suggesting that more airline mergers are likely to follow in the United States and abroad.

Keywords: antitrust, mergers, horizontal mergers, European Commission, EU, Greece, airlines, airline industry, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, Olympic Air, Aegean Airlines

JEL Classification: K21, G34, K12, K10

Suggested Citation

Dickerson, Justin, Antitrust in the Skies: The United and Olympic Airline Mergers (May 12, 2011). Touro International Law Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Justin Dickerson (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States

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