Commitments of KLM and Schiphol to ACM: level playing field at Schiphol airport

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12-Oct-2017 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol will no longer have any contact about growth opportunities of other airlines. Schiphol will independently develop its own plans for investments, charges, and marketing strategy. This has been laid down in commitments that KLM and Schiphol have made to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). These will ensure a level playing field for competitors at Schiphol. KLM and Schiphol acknowledge that interactions have taken place that carried anticompetitive risks. These risks will be addressed by these commitments. ACM does not establish any violation.

Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of the Board of ACM, explains: "It is important that all airlines get the opportunity to compete. Capacity at Schiphol is becoming increasingly scarce, so competitors should have a level playing field. We have to prevent KLM from getting improper preferential treatment over other airlines. With these commitments to ACM, KLM and Schiphol explain how they will ensure this. These commitments therefore help create a strong airport with excellent facilities for all airlines. And that, in turn, will help ensure a varied selection and lower ticket prices."

What do these commitments entail?

KLM and Schiphol have made concrete commitments to ACM about the following aspects:

  • KLM and Schiphol will not have any contact with each other about limiting the growth opportunities of other airlines;
  • Schiphol will develop its own plans for investments, airport charges, and marketing strategy. KLM and Schiphol are open about any mutual interactions, and will record these. In this way, ACM will be able to review such interactions as well as the topics discussed.
  • KLM and Schiphol will not have any contact about requests for bases, lounges, or other specific facilities of other airlines. Any interactions regarding such requests can only take place if the other airline gives its consent. Schiphol will assess all requests of airlines independently.

What was the problem?

KLM and the other members of the SkyTeam airline alliance operate the majority of flights at Schiphol. As a consequence, KLM and Schiphol frequently contact each other about the utilization of airport capacity.

ACM's investigation has revealed that KLM and Schiphol also discussed that KLM and its partners operate approximately 70 percent of all flights, and the other airlines approximately 30 percent. KLM and Schiphol discussed Schiphol's plans. For example, KLM called Schiphol to account for facilities provided to other airlines, such as a hub for easyJet and a business lounge for Emirates. In addition, KLM and Schiphol discussed that Schiphol should take KLM's position into account in its investments, airport charges, and marketing strategy.

Such interactions created the risk that Schiphol would not set its strategy independently, but change it to accommodate KLM's wishes. In this way, the growth opportunities of other airlines may have been frustrated.

Why have KLM and Schiphol made these commitments?

The commitments will help create a level playing field for airlines at Schiphol. Passengers will benefit from competition between airlines: more destinations, lower ticket prices, and better facilities. Schiphol will thus be able to retain its international position, and remain attractive for passengers to fly via Schiphol. That, in turn, will help ensure an extensive network of destinations for Dutch travelers and provide greater connectivity for travelers from abroad.

ACM will make the commitments available for consultation for six weeks so that interested parties have the opportunity to respond.