Greater consideration urged on reservations reform

The Coalition for Fair Access to Reservations in Europe has called on the European Commission to fully assess the impacts on the European travel distribution industry and European consumers before proposing any reform of the EU’s Code of Conduct for Computer Reservations Systems (CRSs).This is
essential if the EC is to find a better, more balanced solution than
full deregulation.

The call follows a conference in Brussels today in which successive
speakers offered fresh evidence that key safeguards in the current CRS
Code continue to play a critical role in facilitating the distribution
of travel to European consumers and deterring competitive abuses. Some
80 per cent on average of Europe’s top network carriers tickets are
distributed through CRSs. Airlines that own CRSs have a well-documented
history of using the incentive and means of their ownership to engage in
discredited practices that stifle competition and consumer choice.

“Continuing airline ownership of the largest European CRS and airline
consolidation in Europe makes it more important than ever for the
Commission to maintain a minimum set of rules to protect European
consumers,” Brandon Mitchener, Executive Director of C-FARE, told a
conference of airlines, travel agents and travel managers in Brussels.

Rainer Klee, Chairman of German C-FARE member AERTiCKET AG, stated: “It
is vitally important that the European Commission conduct a full and
detailed analysis of the travel distribution industry in the enlarged
EU. After a careful study, the Commission’s proposal must balance the
interests of all stakeholders - airlines, travel agents, CRSs - but
above all European consumers, who deserve unfettered access to the best
fares and travel options wherever they live in the EU.”

Brandon Mitchener added: “Travel distribution in Europe is highly
innovative and efficient and continues to benefit from a clear set of
bright-line rules. There are clear and workable alternatives to the
status quo and to full deregulation that retain the most critical
protections of these rules. As long as major European airlines continue
to own stakes in a major CRS, sensible and balanced reforms are called
for. We will be working with the Commission over the coming months to
flesh that out.”