The European Commission has unveiled a formal investigation into agreements between airlines and two of the air industry's global distribution systems.
Sabre and Amadeus will be the subjects of the probe officially launched today, with the regulator looking into whether contracts between them and carriers restrict competition and fall foul of antitrust rules.
The Commission says certain terms in their respective agreements with airlines may hinder the choices that carriers and intermediaries have to use other providers of ticket distribution services.
Travelport, the other member of the group of major GDSs in the market, is not part of the investigation.
"This may make it harder for suppliers of new ticket distribution services to enter the market, as well as increase distribution costs for airlines, which are ultimately passed on in the ticket prices paid by consumers," the Commission says in a statement.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who oversees competition policy at the EC, adds: "The liberalisation of the EU aviation market more than 25 years ago has brought significant benefits to EU citizens, including more choice and lower ticket prices".
The EC says the investigation is being conducted as a matter of priority but stresses that launch of the probe does not "prejudge its outcome".
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