A coalition of airline and passenger groups have called on the European Commission to act against consolidation and lack of distribution transparency in the airline industry.

Organisations including GTMC, GBTA and ETTSA have written an open letter to European commissioner for transport, Violeta Bulc, expressing concern with the “growing threat” to transparency, competition and consumer choice in the airline market.

It’s asked for support to defend the “values of an open and competitive aviation market laid down by the EU in the 1990s”.

The organisations argue that efforts made by airlines to limit transparency in airline distribution, illustrated by Lufthansa and British Airways must be tackled.

“The signatories to this letter have for two years warned against this dangerous development, but it has now happened in the form of a new distribution strategy announced a few days ago by IAG,” the letter said.

They warned that the moves by BA and Lufthansa to introduce a fee for non-direct bookings “discriminate against the transparent and neutral channel and force customers (and agents) to book tickets on British Airways and Iberia through IAG’s own distribution systems”.

They said the more airlines that join this practice, the more difficult it will be to sustain an independent and neutral distribution channels where consumers can compare airlines objectively.

The letter also voiced concerns over consolidation in the airline industry, which they claim will lead to higher prices.

“While the European Commission cannot and should not prevent bankruptcies and/or liquidation of sub-competitive players, we urge you and your colleagues to prevent consolidation from further undermining competition in the airline market, and to carefully examine the expansive level of cooperation between airlines pursuant to alliance and code-sharing agreements to ascertain whether this extensive cooperation among carriers that previously competed with one another damages consumer interests.”

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