Ryanair complains to EU antitrust watchdog about alleged Lufthansa price-fixing

FILE PHOTO: Ryanair planes are seen at Dublin Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Dublin, Ireland, May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ryanair RYA.I has filed a complaint to EU antitrust regulators about alleged talks between Lufthansa's LHAG.DE Italian unit Air Dolomiti and three Italian airlines to fix prices, the chief legal officer of Europe's biggest budget airline said on Thursday.

The complaint also cites alleged price fixing in Austria involving Lufthansa’s local unit Austrian Airlines.

“I can confirm that the price fixing cartel complaint was filed with the European Commission,” Ryanair’s Juliusz Gomorek told reporters.

“In Austria, where Lufthansa has a subsidiary, in the context of the bailout of that subsidiary, we have government officials talking about potentially introducing minimum prices,” he said.

Earlier this month, Austria said it would introduce a minimum ticket price of on average 40 euros ($45), a shot at budget airlines’ heavy discounts and following its 450 million-euro bailout of Lufthansa’s Austrian Airlines.

Gomorek also pointed to Italy “where Lufthansa has its subsidiary, we have that subsidiary talking about getting together with three other airlines to discuss and maybe agree what price levels they may feel comfortable at.”

The European Commission said it had received the complaint and would assess it.

Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines declined to comment.

Gomorek last week wrote to European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s head of cabinet Kim Jorgensen calling for action against Lufthansa’s Air Dolomiti, Alitalia, Neos and Blue Panorama, according to the letter seen by Reuters.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach in Frankfurt and Kirsti Knolle in Vienna; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Edmund Blair