Traveling within Italy would be expensive. The Italian competition watchdog, Antitrust, announced this Thursday, November 16, the opening of an investigation into the prices of flights to Sicily and Sardinia. Objective: to solve the problem of high plane ticket prices.
The investigation, which concerns the connections between‘Italy mainland and Sicily and Sardinia, follows an increase in air ticket prices during peak periods, during the summer. It could then lead to new national regulations or measures specific to airlines, said Antitrust.
In detail, he indicates in a press release that his investigation will concern “ possible negative effects » in this market of the use of pricing algorithms by airlines as well as the way in which the prices of airline tickets and their various elements are communicated to travelers.
A project to cap ticket prices put under the closet
This is not the first time that the high prices of plane tickets have been singled out in Italy. The ultra-conservative government of Giorgia Meloni had already unveiled a headline-grabbing project in August, aiming to cap tickets to and from the islands at 200% of the average annual price. He then quietly withdrew the project following criticism, notably from low-cost airline Ryanair. The latter, which is the main airline on the Italian market in terms of connections and flights, considered this measure illegal, while the European Commission also requested more information.
“ The decree is illegal because European rules stipulate that prices are set by the market », Assured the boss of the company, Michael O’Leary, in an interview with the newspaper Corriere della Sera. The European Commission ” will retort the Italian measure. In the meantime, we won’t respect this bullshit “.
Ryanair then responded to the Meloni government’s decree by announcing in September its intention to reduce its flights to Sardinia by 8% this winter and national flights to Sicily by 10%. “ We will have to reduce supply on domestic routes and increase international flights which are not affected by the decree », Explained the boss of Ryanair. Stated objective: to increase the prices of domestic flights and lower the prices of international flights, the complete opposite of what the government wants…
An amendment to the law, tabled by the government in September, therefore removed this ceiling, replacing it with increased vigilance from Antitrust.
In September, Ryanair was already in the sights of the Competition and Market Authority. According to this institution, the company would use its leading position to increase its position by offering other services such as hotel room reservations and car rentals, to the detriment in particular of online and traditional travel agencies as well as consumers. Four airlines including Ryanair were also suspected of price fixing in Italy, last December, by the Italian Competition and Market Authority.
Takeover of ITA by Lufthansa, the EU must “quickly” approve this operation, demand unions
Several European air transport unions called on Thursday, November 16, the European Commission to approve “ quickly » the takeover by the German group Lufthansa of its Italian competitor ITA Airways.
“We call on the European Commission to quickly approve and support the rapprochement” between the two airlines “in order to maintain European sovereignty over critical aeronautical infrastructure”indicates a joint press release from several Italian, German and Austrian unions.
After years of negotiations with several potential buyers, ITA Airways, successor to Alitalia on the verge of bankruptcy, must be privatized and sold 41% to the German group Lufthansa, according to an agreement reached last May with the Italian state . The German group, European leader in air transport, reserves the option of later increasing its capital to 100% in the medium term, depending on the financial objectives achieved by ITA.
But the agreement between ITA Airways and Lufthansa remains pending the green light from the Directorate General for Competition in Brussels, which is still pending, to the great dismay of the Italian government.