The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania has delivered a ruling marking the end in a five-year long case involving 29 Lithuanian travel agencies. The ruling having fully acquitted COBALT client UAB Keliautojų klubas, is final and non-appealable.
In 2012, the Competition Council fined several dozen of travel agencies a total of over EUR 1.5 m for agreeing among themselves the rates of discounts applied on online bookings of organised tours.
All of the fined travel agencies used a shared E-TURAS system for online travel bookings. In 2009, the administrator of E-TURAS system limited by technical means possibilities for the travel agencies to apply a discount above 3 per cent on tours sold via E-TURAS booking system. Such limitations started to apply after the administrator had posted a relevant notification in E-TURAS system.
The Competition Council concluded that by making continued use of E-TURAS booking system after the technical limitation of discounts, without making any objections, the travel agencies committed an infringement of competition rules, because they could have reasonably foreseen that the rest of system users would also apply discounts up to 3 per cent. The regulatory authority decided on that basis that such travel agencies had notified each other of the rate of discounts that they intended to apply in the future.
The Competition Council found that such actions (or rather omission) on the part of the travel agencies constituted prohibited concerted practices.