The Competition Council (CC) has sanctioned 13 tourism agencies and the National Association of Agencies Tourism (ANAT) with fines totaling RON 11,419,539 (approximately EUR 2.45 million) for coordinated behavior on the tourism market for the marketing of products through travel agencies, according to a CC press release.
The competition authority found that between June 2013 and September 2016, 13 travel agents had coordinated their trade policies, including through an exchange of competitive information, in order to prevent prices of traded goods or tourism packages from falling.
The travel agencies did not lower the sales price to customers below a certain level for tourist products and / or tourism packages (eg airplane in charter flights – both as an individual tourist product and as part of a package of tourist services). They also limited or removed promotional offer campaigns of competing companies that offered discounts or free services to customers and shared seats on contracted airplanes for charter flights, thus artificially limiting the offer to increase the price.
The fines were applied as follows:
- Aerotravel S.R.L. RON 400,754.46 (EUR 86,003);
- Air Fla S.R.L. RON 9,618.91 (EUR 2.064);
- Corali Holidays S.R.L. RON 6.644,12 (EUR 1,426);
- Eximtur S.R.L. RON 685,116.14 (EUR 147,027);
- Fibula Air Travel S.R.L. RON 88,310.64 (EUR 18,952);
- Happy Tour S.R.L. RON 519,597.56 (EUR 111,506);
- Nova Travel S.R.L. RON 124,616.00 (EUR 26,743);
- Parallel 45 Tourism S.R.L. RON 1,723,737.00 (EUR 369,917);
- Prestige Tours International S.R.L. RON 2,139,282.82 (EUR 459,09)
- Prompt Service Travel Company S.R.L. RON 186,084.73 (EUR 39,934);
- Residence World Travel S.R.L. RON 28,780.08 (EUR 6.176);
- Tez Tour S.R.L. RON 55,930.00 (EUR 12,003);
- Touring Europabus Romania S.R.L. RON 5,397,762.87 (EUR 1,158,368).
Christian’76 Tour S.R.L. applied to the leniency program, providing evidence of existing anticompetitive actions, and received immunity from fines. Aerotravel S.R.L., Eximtur S.R.L., Fibula Air Travel S.R.L., Nova Travel S.R.L., Parallel 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 practice and benefitted from a 20 percent reduction of the fine.
The investigation will continue with the analysis of possible anticompetitive behavior of The Romanian Air Transport Company Tarom, respectively the facilitation of committing anticompetitive deeds.
In the same investigation, the Competition Council sanctioned ANAT with RON 53,304.02 (EUR 11,439.12) because, between September 2012 and April 2016, it banned members who operated as resellers for tourist products and / or tourist packages, to provide customers with discounts in the form of disposals of part of their fees to the companies (tour operators) that offered those products / tourist packages.
ANAT acknowledged its anticompetitive actions and benefitted from a 20 percent reduction in the fine. At the same time, the Competition Council imposed on ANAT the obligation to organize and carry out actions training for member agencies and their employees in order to know the regulations in competition and thus be able to identify possible anti-competitive practices.
This is the first investigation initiated by the Competition Council following information received by an anonymous notification posted to its Complaints Platform.
At the same time, the Competition Authority called for an improvement of the regulation by correct and complete transposition of the European Packaging Directive travel services and associated travel services (EU Directive 2302/2015), in order to protect both tourists and operators in the field.