The Competition Council has sanctioned 13 tourism agencies and the National Association of Tourism Agencies (ANAT) with fines totaling RON 11,419,539.35 (approx. EUR 2.45 million). The competition authority claims that they have coordinated their behavior on the market for the trade of tourism products through travel agencies.
The Competition Council says that, during June 2013 – September 2016, 13 travel agencies have coordinated their trade policies, including through exchange of competitive information, in order not to allow the prices of traded tourist products /packages to fall, realitatea.net reports.
Thus, the travel agencies did not reduce, to a certain extent, the sales price to customers for tourism products and/or packages of traded tourist services (e.g.: flight tickets on charter flights – both as individual tourist product and as a component of a package of tourist services). They also limited or eliminated the promotional campaigns of competing companies offering discounts or bonuses to their customers and divided their seats in chartered airplanes in order to artificially limit the offer in view of increasing the sales price.
Christian ’76 Tour S.R.L. applied to the leniency program, providing evidence of anti-competitive facts, and received immunity from fines.
Aerotravel S.R.L., Eximtur S.R.L., Fibula Air Travel S.R.L., Nova Travel S.R.L., Paralela 45 Tourism S.R.L., Prompt Service Travel Company S.R.L., Rezeda World Travel S.R.L., Tez Tour S.R.L., Touring Europabus Romania S.R.L. have recognized their participation in the anti-competitive practice and benefited from a 20% reduction in the basic level of the fine.
The investigation will continue the analysis of the possible anticompetitive behavior of the Romanian Air Transport Company Tarom S.A., namely the facilitation of the anticompetitive deed.
In the same investigation, the Competition Council has sanctioned ANAT by RON 53,304.02 (EUR 11,439.12) because during September 2012 – April 2016 it banned its members acting as resellers for tourist products and/or packages of tourist services, to give the customers discounts in the form of giving up a share of their commissions from the tour operators who offered those products/packages.
ANAT has acknowledged its anticompetitive act and benefited from a 20% reduction of the fine.
At the same time, the Competition Council has imposed on ANAT the obligation to organize and carry out training for member agencies and their employees in order to know the competition regulations and thus to identify the possible anti-competitive practices.
Paralela 45 says it accepted the fine to put an end to a four-year long investigation
‘Paralela 45’has issued a release which argues that the company has sent to the CC, even before the start of the investigation, an address requesting clarifications on the competition practice and has received no reply.
It also argues that the CC analyses during the investigation on tourism agencies do not take into consideration the impact on the market.
“Paralela 45 has been fined for a correspondence of 11 e-mails with no impact on the market. The talks on sharing the seats on charter planes between tour-operators has caused no damage to anyone, It is not illegal. It is done for having the guarantee it would operate the entire season,” the release reads, quoting Alin Burcea, Paralela 45 owner.
The company also says it has always supported a competing market and quality services in relation with the clients. “We respect our clients, we post the final price with all taxes included. The information delivered to the Competition Council by the agency that has been granted immunity to fine are exaggerations meant to absolve it from sanction,” the release also reads.