Zenith CC&P Current Awareness

​European Commission investigation into airline ticket distribution

28 November 2018

Prof. Suzanne Rab

The European Commission is investigating whether agreements between booking systems Amadeus and Sabre, and airlines and travel agents, may be in breach of EU competition law.

The Commission is investigating whether provisions in the providers’ agreements with airlines and agents may limit the latter’s ability to use rival suppliers of ticket distribution.  This may make it more difficult for new distribution suppliers to enter the market and may increase costs for airlines which are passed on to consumers.

It will be recalled that as early as 2002 the Commission investigated the creation of the online travel agency, Opodo.  This was a joint venture by nine of Europe’s largest travel agents offering internet sales, hotel bookings, car hire and insurance.  The European Commission took into account a package of commitments offered by the parties and issued a ‘negative clearance’ type of comfort letter.   In order to allay concerns that the airlines might use the joint venture as a vehicle for collusion the parties put in place undertakings that the shareholders would not get access to commercially sensitive information about each other. In order to address the concern that the airlines would favour their own operations to the detriment of other travel agents, each undertook not to discriminate without objective justification between other travel agents.

Commission press release IP/18/6538

Current Awareness

By the CC&P team