German flag-carrier Lufthansa has admitted that it is one of the carriers whose offices have been raided today by European Commission inspectors following allegations of price-fixing on passenger flights.
The Commission says it has carried out “unannounced inspections” at the premises of several international airlines operating long-haul services.
It says: “The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated [European] rules on restrictive business practices.”
While the Commission does not identify the carriers, Lufthansa admits it is one of the airlines involved. It says the raid on its Frankfurt office follows allegations of a possible cartel on flights between Europe and Japan.
“The Commission has information that passenger aviation companies including Lufthansa in Europe and in Japan may have taken part in anti-competitive price-fixing and collusive behaviour in traffic between the European Union and Japan,” says Lufthansa in a brief statement.
Star Alliance member Lufthansa says it is co-operating with the Commission “in full” and adds that it is “willingly providing” all requested information.
The Commission adds: “Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. The fact that the European Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour. Nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.”
Lufthansa was caught up, two years ago, in the extensive European-US investigation into cartel activity centred on air freight, during which it was granted conditional immunity.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news