Investigation into Aer Lingus travel agent commissions

Outcome of investigation

Following the assessment of a complaint, the Competition Authority (Authority) formed the view that the decision by Aer Lingus plc (“Aer Lingus”) to decrease its commission to travel agents on ticket sales, and the resultant reduction in travel agent margins, did not breach competition law. The Authority therefore closed its investigation.

Outline of case

The Authority received a complaint in January 2002 alleging that Aer Lingus had abused its dominant position in the airline market by reducing the commission to travel agents on ticket sales from 9% to 5%. It was claimed that this would reduce the number of travel agents in the State, leading to a lessening of competition among travel agents.

The Authority considered that the unilateral reduction in commissions by Aer Lingus did not, in its view, breach competition law. It was, on the other hand, arguably pro-consumer and objectively justified.

Furthermore the Authority saw no reason that travel agents could not separately set service charges for the expertise that they provide to the public.

To learn more on this case read our Enforcement Decision on the Reduction in Travel Agents’ Commissions by Aer Lingus (pdf).

Relevant provision

Section 5 of the Competition Act 2002

Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

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