Bloomberg News

EU Drops Air France-KLM, Lufthansa Probe Over Japanese Flights

November 16, 2011

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- European Union antitrust regulators dropped a probe into carriers including Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG over possible price-fixing on Japanese flights.

Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, Europe’s two biggest airlines, said in March 2008 that EU regulators searched their offices as part of a probe involving passenger flights on routes from Europe and Japan.

Recent air-service accords with fares now “freely set” are among the reasons for dropping the case, Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the Brussels-based European Commission, said in an e-mailed statement.

Cooperation between airlines has triggered two recent EU probes into ticket-sales agreements. Regulators also fined carriers including Air France-KLM, British Airways Plc and Japan Airlines Corp. last year over colluding on air-cargo fuel and security surcharges.

Lufthansa flies to Japanese cities including Tokyo and Osaka from its main hubs at Frankfurt and Munich. It cooperates with All Nippon Airways Co., Japan’s largest domestic carrier, through the Star Alliance, the world’s biggest airline grouping.

Boris Ogursky, a spokesman for Cologne, Germany-based Lufthansa, and Air France-KLM spokesman Cedric Leurquin declined to immediately comment on the EU decision to close the Japanese- flights probe.

Lufthansa and All Nippon Airways earlier this year sought the Japanese government for antitrust immunity for a joint venture operating flights between Japan and Europe that started in October. All Nippon started a U.S.-Japan venture with United Continental Holdings in April.

--With assistance from Alexander Webb in Frankfurt. Editors: Peter Chapman, Christopher Scinta

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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