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Spain: CNMC fines travel agency cartel

 |  June 7, 2016

Spanish competition regulator CNMC has issued a fine of over 320, 000 euros against the Association of Travel Agency Representation Groups (AGRUPA)- groups which represent independent travel agencies in their dealing with suppliers or major tourism operators – and eight associated companies, over violations of Spain’s Competition Defense Law. The actions of the group could be considered as fitting the description of a cartel.

The main function of AGRUPA and its members is in accumulating market power through its travel agency customers in order to negotiate for better conditions on their behalf. The CNMC’s fine does not challenge this model or the existence of these groups, or the collective purchasing agreements developed by these agencies and offered to independent agencies in their network. However, the regulator said, they must respect the principles and norms of competition.

The CNMC has stated that, between 1999 and 2011, members of AGRUPA held at least 35 general assemblies. At least 31 of these included price-fixing and market-sharing agreements in the form of non-aggression pacts. Among other charges, agreements were also made to boicot specific travel agencies. In doing this, the cartel would have openly flaunted competition laws for over 12 years, causing unknown damage to service providers and tour operators.

Full Content: CNMC

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