The German Anti-Cartel Office has severely criticised Lufthansa, which has been accused of abuse of its dominant position in Germany for a long time. The airline has assured that it has not knowingly raised its prices and explained the rise by a question of “algorithms”.
“These algorithms are not written by God from heaven,” the boss of the federal administration in charge of competition Andreas Mundt writes in an interview published Thursday in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Since the end of November, the German cartel office has been investigating this allegedly intentional increase in Lufthansa’s fares after the takeover of parts of its competitor Air Berlin.
Since this acquisition, Lufthansa has been in a strong position, especially on German domestic routes, which are crucial in a highly decentralised country.
In November, the business daily Handelsblatt claimed to have seen an increase of up to 300% on some flights, including the Berlin-Düsseldorf route.
The association of German tour operators (VDR) had in the wake confirmed in November an increase in the number of complaints related to the price of airline tickets in Germany, especially during the week, when there is a peak demand for such flights, according to the dpa press agency.
The CEO of the largest German airline Carsten Spohr has repeatedly justified the price increase by an automatic calculation effect linked to a simultaneous increase in demand and a drop in supply since the disappearance of Air Berlin.
“Lufthansa has not increased the price of its domestic and European flights for over a year,” said Lufthansa boss on Sunday in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
“There have been bottlenecks, every day we are short of 60,000 seats, hence the available flights are booked more quickly, and for a last-minute purchase, only the most expensive booking classes are available.”
Mid-December Lufthansa had to give up the purchase of Air Berlin’s subsidiary, Niki, to reassure the European competition directorate and to be allowed to buy other bits of Air Berlin.
Source: AFP, Reuters