The second half of 2015 continues to highlight the importance of competition law in the aviation sector.
This paper summarizes the main competition law developments over the past six months and provides the reader with greater detail of each of these developments.
The second part of 2015 has seen the European Commission (the ‘Commission’) adopt a new Aviation Strategy for Europe. The package of measures is intended to ensure that the European aviation sector remains competitive and reaps the benefits of a fast-changing and developing global economy.
Other developments include the Commission’s conditional clearance of the Aer Lingus and IAG merger with clearance only being achieved after the parties submitted a substantial remedies package. This clearance decision has actually paved the way for a number of other legal challenges being brought to an end, notably, Ryanair’s long-running legal battles with both the Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (the ‘CMA’) as well as Aer Lingus’ challenge to the Commission’s 2012 decision to rank a bid submitted by Virgin Atlantic to acquire slots from IAG, which the latter was required to divest as part of the conditional clearance of its purchase of bmi, above a bid submitted by Aer Lingus.
Another major development is the European Union (‘EU’) General Court’s annulment of a 2010 Commission decision which fined eleven airlines a total of EUR 799 million for their participation in an air-cargo cartel. The Commission’s decision has given rise to a large number of follow-on damages claims in various jurisdictions, and the EU General Court’s annulment will create substantial uncertainty as to the future conduct of such claims.Air and Space Law