Antitrust: Commission closes investigation into airline ticket distribution services

The European Commission has decided to close its investigation into the agreements used by booking system providers Amadeus and Sabre with airlines and travel agents. The investigation was opened in November 2018 due to concerns that terms in Amadeus’ and Sabre’s agreements with airlines and travel agents for the distribution of airline tickets might breach EU competition rules which prohibit agreements between companies that prevent, restrict or distort competition within the EU (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). The closure decisions are based on a thorough analysis and careful assessment of all the evidence gathered during the investigation. The Commission has reached the conclusion that the evidence collected is not sufficiently conclusive to justify pursuing the investigation further. The closure of the investigation is not a finding that the agreements in question comply with the EU competition rules. The Commission will continue to monitor developments in the airline ticket distribution sector. In parallel, the Commission is currently reviewing the Regulation which governs the relationship between airlines, booking system providers and travel agents (Regulation (EC) No 80/2009 on a Code of Conduct for computerised reservation systems). The Commission is conducting an impact assessment to examine the full range of policy options and their potential implications. More information on the investigation is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number AT.40617 Airline ticket distribution (Amadeus) and AT.40618 Airline ticket distribution (Sabre).