The European Travel and Technology Services Association (ETTSA) has filed an antitrust complaint against the Lufthansa Group with the European Commission.
The complaint, which has been jointly filed with VIR, an association representing the digital travel industry in Germany, is centred on what the organizations describe as “discriminatory and exclusionary practices against independent distributors of airline tickets.”
ETTSA, which lobbies on behalf of the global distribution giants as well as online travel agents in Europe, claims that the German airline is using its dominant position in its home as well as other markets and refusing to distribute its cheapest fare classes through the GDSs.
The move also means many travel agents cannot open up to these fares to their travelers.
Back in July, ETTSA lodged a complaint with the European Ombudsman against the Commission for failing to enforce EU law over the Lufthansa surcharges. The Commission’s position was that the distribution landscape had changed.
Earlier this month, the Commission said it was investigating agreements between airlines and Amadeus and Sabre, both organizations which it counts as members.
The investigation centres on whether contracts between the parties fall foul of antitrust rules.
In the latest development, ETTSA and VIR point to Lufthansa’s surcharges for tickets booked via GDSs which they describe as “unjustified” adding that they “penalise and consumers and corporate buyers that use these services.”
In a statement, ETTSA says that more than a billion Euros has been paid to Lufthansa in surcharges since their introduction in September 2015.
Further claims levied against the airline include that its restricting competition in both air ticket distribution and airline services markets and stifling innovation by driving its own distribution solutions.
A statement from Lufthansa Group says it does not comment on “any ongoing legal cases.” It goes on to say it is aware of the complaint and will cooperate with the investigating authorities.
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This is not the first time ETTSA has complained to Brussels about Lufthansa with the organization saying it has been talking to the commission for some time.
In the past its complaints were registered with DG Move and centred on the Code of Conduct on computerised reservation systems, while this time ETTSA’s antitrust complaint address EU Competition rules and as such has been filed with DG Comp.
The Commission decided not to act on complaints about Lufthansa’s distribution cost charge but ETTSA secretary general Emmanuel Mounier says the hope is that complaints will be viewed differently because they are based on new facts - namely the withdrawal of lower fares of GDSs.
The carrier has been introducing incentives and benefits to those using the NDC channel including special fares.