The Croatian Competition Authority determines that a national airport did not abuse its dominant position when applying a COVID-19 discount for airlines (Zagreb Airport / RyanAir)

CCA investigates practices of Zagreb airport*

In the preliminary market investigation relating to the alleged abusive practices of the undertaking Međunarodna zračna luka Zagreb d.d. (Zagreb Airport) with respect to the conclusion of the agreement on the provision of services with the undertaking Ryanair the Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) sought the data and the opinions of the undertaking Croatia Airlines d.d., Zagreb Airport and the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency.

The received data explained that Ryanair applied for the incentive scheme that is a constituent part of the pricelist of Zagreb Airport and that lays down the criteria for discounts applied to certain charges and aims at promoting air transport during the covid pandemic.

The incentive scheme offers eight publicly available models that are included in Zagreb Airport pricelist. One of the models is the Air Traffic Promotion Model that entered into force in December 2020 after the consultation with the representative body of Zagreb Airport users and the approval of the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency.

The Air Traffic Promotion Model aiming at alleviating the adverse consequences on air traffic caused by covid pandemic was published on the website of Zagreb Airport and was available to all interested air carriers from December 2020 to end of June 2021. It provides incentives for air carriers that opened new routes i.e., the routes that had not existed on Zagreb Airport before the implementation of the incentive scheme.

Ryanair was the only carrier that applied for the incentive scheme concerned.

The CCA found that the incentives have not been given immediately after the signing of the incentive agreement. During the implementation of the incentive scheme the air carrier pays the full charges defined by the price list of Zagreb Airport. Only after Zagreb Airport during the monitoring procedure finds that the air carrier meets the requirements under the incentive agreement and the model concerned, it calculates the discounts and issues approval for payment.

The investigation into the data concerned showed that there have been no indices of abuse of dominance by Zagreb Airport within the meaning of Article 13 paragraph 3 of the Competition Act OG 79/09, 80/13 and 41/21 in the payment of charges for the access to the airport facilities under the Air Traffic Promotion Model on the account of the fact that both the pricelist and Air Traffic Promotion Model have been subject to a strictly regulated procedure involving the mandatory consent of many parties, in particular, the representative body of Zagreb Airport users, and that is under scrutiny of the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency.

The determined discount system in this model, as in other models under the incentive scheme, has a standardised threshold that applies equally to all interested airlines and such a discount system does no lead to unequal treatment of airlines in practice, given the discount scheme is not flexible and it does not provide for individual discounts.

*This is the original title of the press release. The title above has been amended in order to match the e-Competitions format. Individual authors are welcome to provide original independent commentaries on the case law. Articles are subject to approval by the Board of e-Competitions Bulletin before publication based on the Editorial Policy (click here).

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Croatian Competition Authority, The Croatian Competition Authority determines that a national airport did not abuse its dominant position when applying a COVID-19 discount for airlines (Zagreb Airport / RyanAir), 30 December 2021, e-Competitions December 2021, Art. N° 105601

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