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Air transport: Airlines asked to explain price discrimination practices

Commission services have written to 18 European airlines, asking them if and why they charge different prices for…

Commission services have written to 18 European airlines, asking them if and why they charge different prices for identical flights to residents of different EU countries. Airlines have until the end of February 2004 to react.



The services of the Commission have written today to 18 European airlines, asking each of them whether it charges different prices for exactly the same ticket depending on the country of residence of the client, and if so, why.



The Commission receives indeed an increasing number of complaints from citizens who feel they have been discriminated against when buying plane tickets, especially via the Internet. Airlines typically use the postal address or the credit card address to determine the residence of a customer. Depending on the country of residence, they might then quote different prices. Price differences can be as high as 300%.



The complaints received by the Commission concern identical tickets. The contested price differences are thus not linked to the date of purchase, the possibility to change one`s reservation or to any other service feature which could explain varying costs. The price differential seems to be exclusively linked to the place of residence of the buyer.

Most complaining citizens feel that this is a clear breach of the Treaty provisions on non-discrimination and the internal market.



The airlines have been asked to react before 29.02.2004. In the light of the answers, it will then be decided whether further action by the Commission may be necessary.

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