Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, Turkish, Brussels Airlines targeted in EC codeshare probe

The European Commission announced Friday that it has launched formal antitrust investigations into the free-flow codeshare agreements between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines on the Munich-Istanbul Ataturk and Frankfurt-IST routes and between Brussels Airlines and TAP Portugal on the Brussels-Lisbon route. The two investigations are separate. All four airlines are members of Star Alliance.

"While codeshare agreements can provide substantial benefits to passengers, some types of such agreements may also produce anti-competitive effects," the EC said in a statement, noting it had opened the investigations on its own initiative. "These investigations focus on a particular type of codesharing arrangement where these airlines have agreed to sell seats on each others' flights on the Germany-Turkey routes and on the Belgium-Portugal routes, where both companies already operate their own flights between their own hubs ('parallel hub-to-hub codesharing') and should, in principle, be competing with each other."

LH and THY are the major operators on the MUN-IST and FRA-IST routes while SN and TAP are the only operators on the BRU-LIS route. LH holds a 45% stake in SN, with the option to buy the remaining 55% this year.

The EC pointed out that the investigation does not imply that it has conclusive proof of an infringement.

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