17-Feb-2011 8:52 AM

EC launches infringement procedures against six states over agreements with Russia

European Commission launched (16-Feb-2011) infringement procedures against Cyprus, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain over their bilateral air service agreements with Russia, sending each Member State a formal request for information. The Commission is concerned that the agreements may hinder competition between European airlines and provide the basis for Siberian overflight charges that may be illegal under EU antitrust rules. Similar letters of formal notice were already sent in Oct-2010 to Austria, Finland, France, Germany and and in Jan-2011 to Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. The Commission is now assessing the compliance with EU law of the remaining Member States' bilateral aviation agreements with Russia. The view of the European Commission is that air transport agreements must treat all EU airlines equally and respect antitrust rules. Otherwise some EU airlines may be treated less favourably than their direct competitors or face paying unreasonable additional charges which may be passed on to consumers in higher airfares. Member States have two months to respond to the letters of formal notice. [more]

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