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Italy’s Antitrust Watchdog Clears Airlines of Christmas Price Fixing Allegations

 |  December 7, 2023

Italy’s antitrust regulator is expected to drop the case against several airlines, including ITA Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air, over allegations of possible price fixing for flights during the Christmas season between Sicily and mainland Italian cities. Senior antitrust official Guido Stazi announced on Thursday that the regulator had found no evidence of “illicit coordination” among the airline operators, leading to the decision to close the case formally within the next few weeks.

The investigation, prompted by a complaint from consumer group Codacons, focused on flights connecting the Sicilian cities of Palermo and Catania with major mainland cities such as Rome, Milan, Turin, and Bologna. The probe sought to determine whether the airlines engaged in any unfair practices that resulted in higher fares during the festive period last December.

In a statement to the parliament, Guido Stazi confirmed that the regulator had already informed the concerned airlines of its findings. Stazi emphasized that the evidence did not support the conclusion that prices were determined by any form of improper collaboration among the airline operators.

Read more: Italy Probes Major Low-Cost Carriers Over Price Fixing

This decision comes as a relief for ITA Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air, as they will no longer face potential penalties or legal consequences related to the alleged price fixing. The airlines had maintained their innocence throughout the investigation.

The controversy over high flight prices to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia gained renewed attention over the summer. In response, the Italian government initially proposed a plan to cap fares, addressing concerns about affordability and accessibility to these popular destinations. However, this move sparked a broader conversation about the balance between consumer protection and the financial viability of airlines, leading to ongoing discussions within the government about the best approach to address the issue.

With the antitrust watchdog’s decision to drop the case, the focus now shifts to potential future measures that may be taken to ensure fair pricing and accessibility for air travel to and from Italy’s islands during peak travel periods.

Source: Reuters