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Complaint against IATA and IATA airlines



The European Commission sent a letter of concern to IATA in June 2003 following ECTAA/GEBTA’s complaint against IATA and IATA airlines. This letter raises concerns about the compliance of the IATA Passenger Agency Program with Community competition rules on four issues: accreditation criteria, rules for the issuance of tickets by Satellite Ticket Printer, the organisation of BSPs on a national basis and access to fares. Since this letter, ECTAA has been cooperating with the European Commission and discussing with IATA, notably on the negotiation process for the review of accreditation criteria. At ECTAA’s bi-annual meeting in Zagreb Members reconfirmed that ECTAA should not accept to negotiate with IATA, if the results of these discussions can be overruled in the PAConf. The European Commission has confirmed that it would not renew IATA’s immunity for the Passenger Agency Program under article 81 of the Treaty, mainly because of the revision of Community competition legislation (see next point), which will come into force in May 2004. The European Commission has suggested a tripartite meeting with IATA and ECTAA in early March to clarify the concerns of the Commission and see how these issues can be resolved. During the meeting the Commission indicated that the four concerns raised by the Commission have not been solved by IATA. Therefore, the Commission is going to deal with the concerns on STPs, BSP and access to fares, and it has fixed a calendar for IATA, airlines and travel agents to negotiate a set of minimum harmonised accreditation criteria, at a European and national level, by July 2004. The Commission put it clearly to IATA that this negotiation and the implementation of its result is crucial to avoid legal difficulties.





Revision of the Community competition legislation



Regulation 1/2003 adopted in December 2002 modifies the implementation of Community competition rules on cartels (article 81 of the Treaty) and on abuse of dominant positions (article 82 of the Treaty). In particular for cartels, it provides the complete abolition of the notification system and shares the direct application of the exemption rules with Member States’ authorities, in order to allow the Commission to concentrate on serious infringements of competition rules. The Regulation will come into force on 1st May 2004.



http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/pri/en/oj/dat/2003/l_001/l_00120030104en00010025.pdf



The new Community competition rules may have an impact for the travel agents, as the IATA Passenger Agency Program will no longer benefit from an EU anti-trust immunity and could be challenged before national courts. The ECTAA/GEBTAA complaint is based on these Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty.

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