The European Union is launching a comprehensive probe into the significant surge in air fares across Europe during the summer, which saw prices rise by as much as 30 percent. This investigation comes as airlines reported record profits, leading to concerns of potential anti-competitive behavior.
Adina Vălean, the EU’s transport commissioner, revealed in an interview with the Financial Times that EU officials are diligently examining the market dynamics that contributed to this unprecedented price increase. While the European Commission lacks the authority to directly regulate air fares, Vălean’s involvement adds to the mounting pressure on airlines to explain the reasons behind the recent price hikes.
The surge in air fares was primarily attributed to a surge in travel demand coupled with supply chain disruptions. Average air fares in Europe during the summer of 2023 were reported to be between 20-30 percent higher compared to 2019, according to data released by the EU in October.
Vălean clarified that the intention is not to interfere with the normal functioning of the aviation market but rather to gain a deeper understanding of the industry dynamics that resulted in the price spikes. She stated, “We are still investigating because we don’t have a full, detailed explanation,” emphasizing the need to ascertain whether these fare increases represent a long-term trend or have other underlying causes.
The probe will seek explanations from airlines regarding the factors contributing to the rise in fares and potential obstacles to connectivity within the European Union. The investigation aims to ensure transparency and fairness in the aviation sector, with an emphasis on preserving competitive pricing for the benefit of European travelers.