vrijdag 29 januari 2010
Airlines in probe over world cup air fares
South Africa's Competition Commission said Thursday it has opened an investigation into possible price-fixing by airlines during the football World Cup.
The investigation targets British Airways and its local partner Comair, South African Airways and its partners SA Airlink and SA Express, as well as discount carriers 1Time and Mango, the commission said in a statement.
They are suspected of colluding on prices and pricing strategies during the World Cup, which kicks off on June 11, it said.
"The soccer World Cup tournament provides South African business with a good opportunity to showcase our international competitiveness, an opportunity which could have positive and lasting benefits," said Commissioner Shan Ramburuth.
"But it is also possible that some firms might want to exploit the situation by engaging in anti-competitive conduct. The Commission is obliged to investigate all legitimate complaints in such instances."
President Jacob Zuma's office asked the commission to look into concerns about airlines raising prices for the World Cup, the statement said.
Airfares during the World Cup have sparked a public uproar for months.
The cheapest flight on South African Airways on June 11 from Johannesburg to Cape Town was listed at 4,053 rand (534 dollars, 382 euros) on Thursday -- more than double the cost of a flight taken on May 11.
South African Airways in December filed a leniency application, offering to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for being spared prosecution, the statement said.
The airline gave the commission emails that indicate carriers might adjust prices ahead of the tournament, correspondence that suggested fares would be raised to cover anticipated costs during the four-week tournament.
The emails also said that since airlines could not yet predict which routes would see the greatest demand, they might charge peak prices for all routes.