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Airline code sharing

European Commission

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A specially-designed framework for airline code-share agreements has ensured European Union citizens aren’t disadvantaged by anti-competitive behaviour amongst carriers.

Our role

Steer Davies Gleave was asked by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition to establish a framework to classify and understand the potential anti-competitive impact of airline code-sharing arrangements in various circumstances, as part of their overall role to ensure fair competition within the European Union.

We assessed the various types of airline code-shares that occur in the industry, developing a framework for understanding the different elements of these agreements and the different circumstances in which they occur (both within and outside the major airline Alliances). The framework provided guidance on the likelihood of anti-competitive practices in each different situation, as well as the kinds of remedies that might be appropriate.

How we did it

Our approach to developing the framework was a mixture of qualitative and quantitative analysis. We interviewed 14 code-sharing airlines and seven other stakeholders representing consumers and developed a “taxonomy” of the different types of code-share.

We then analysed schedule data (from OAG) to determine the number and nature of code-shares involving EU-based airlines, and we undertook a number of case studies to determine the impact - if any - of code-sharing on the level of capacity offered or prices charged.

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