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A FINE OF MORE THAN FIVE MILLION LITAS FOR THE PROHIBITED AGREEMENT WHILE SELLING TOURS ONLINE

07 06 2012

Having conducted the investigation, the Competition Council concluded that 30 tour operators, which used the online tour search and booking system E-TURAS, and the system administrator UAB „Eturas“ had coordinated the discount level for online tours sold to consumers. It was established that during the period of August 2009 to March 2010 the maximum discount that consumers could get had been limited up to 3 percent. The discount limit in this case was set through the system E-TURAS without any direct contact of the tour operators. By such actions the tour operators and the system administrator UAB „Eturas“ infringed Article 5 of the Law on Competition which prohibits competition-restricting agreements such as agreements between competitors to fix prices. Furthermore, having considered that such discount limitation through the E-TURAS system affected trade between Member States it was also established an infringement of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Competing in prices is one of the key factors of effective competition: it makes it possible for buyers to purchase goods or services under the best conditions. For tour operators application of discounts is essentially the only and the main form of competition in prices. Under a coordinated maximum level of discount the tour operators avoided the need to compete while providing discounts to consumers, and the consumers lost a possibility to take advantage of the benefits of competition.

For this prohibited agreement the Competition Council imposed fines totalling more than 5 million litas on 29 companies engaged in sales of package tours and other associated activities and on UAB „Eturas“, which was recognized as the initiator of the prohibited agreement. The fines were imposed having assessed the gravity of the infringement and its duration, mitigating and aggravating circumstances, impact of each of the companies on the infringement, and the value of sales of products directly and indirectly related to the infringement.

The following fines were imposed on the companies:

- UAB „AAA Wrislit“ – LTL 358,800;

- UAB „Aljus ir KO“ – LTL 2,400;

- UAB „Aviaeuropa“ – LTL 12,100;

- UAB „Baltic Clipper“ – LTL 154,600;

- UAB „Baltic Tours Vilnius“ – LTL 112,000;

- UAB „Daigera“ – LTL 79,300;

- UAB „Eturas“ – LTL 51,100;

- UAB „Ferona“ – LTL 33,200;

- UAB „Freshtravel“ – LTL 12,200;

- UAB „Grand Voyage“ – LTL 1,900;

- UAB „Guliverio kelionės“ – LTL 639,800;

- UAB „Gustus vitae“ – LTL 29,100;

- UAB „Kalnų upė“ – LTL 131,300;

- UAB „Keliautojų klubas“ – LTL 202,500;

- UAB „Kelionių akademija“ – LTL 389,900;

- UAB „Kelionių gurmanai“ – LTL 14,400;

- UAB „Kelionių laikas“ – LTL 107,500;

- Turizmo UAB „Litamicus“ – LTL 58,600;

- UAB „Megaturas“ – LTL 2,090,700;

- UAB „Neoturas“ – LTL 107,000;

- UAB „Smaragdas travel“ – LTL 229,400;

- UAB „TopTravel“ – LTL 138,900;

- UAB „Travelonline Baltics“ – 115,900;

- UAB „Tropikai“ – LTL 28,400;

- UAB „Vestekspress“ – LTL 164,300;

- UAB „Vipauta“ – LTL 10,800;

- UAB „Vistus“ – LTL 3,700;

- UAB „Visveta“ – LTL 131,400;

- UAB „Zigzag Travel“ – LTL 13,100;

- UAB „ZIP Travel“ – LTL 8,700.

One of the offending companies – UAB „700LT“ was exempted from the fine by the Competition Council as this company being the first to provide to the Competition Council all information related to the prohibited agreement complied with all conditions of immunity. This example shows that a company, which is a party of the competitors‘ prohibited agreement, having provided to the Competition Council all information regarding such agreement and having fulfilled the established requirements set out in the rules on Leniency rules may avoid sanctions.

Competition Council Spokesperson