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German regulator asks Lufthansa for fare price information after Air Berlin’s collapse

The German cartel office has requested national carrier Lufthansa for information on airfare prices after receiving complaints over skyrocketing rates after the collapse of Air Berlin.

Air Berlin stopped operations last month after filing for insolvency back in August. Lufthansa has proposed to take on an estimated 80 planes from its fallen rival, pending the approval from the EU’s competition regulator.

“We have asked Lufthansa to provide information on pricing,” cartel office President Andreas Mundt said, saying that the watchdog would take a close look at the information and then go from there, whether an investigation would be initiated or not.

Lufthansa said it was working with the cartel office and had not altered its pricing structures, which comprise up to 26 different fares per flight.

“We have not altered our pricing. The insolvency of Air Berlin has led to a capacity bottleneck and therefore the cheapest tickets are being sold sooner,” a spokesman for Lufthansa said.

Aviation industry expert Gerd Pontius said that prices were up, on average, by as much as 30% higher on specific routes.

Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr stated that the failure of Air Berlin meant 60,000 fewer seats were available every day but the situation should be on the up and up by January of 2018.

Lufthansa and European budget airline easyJet hope to have ratifications next month for different deals to purchase parts of Air Berlin.

Air Berlin, Monarch and Alitalia have all entered administration this year, while a steep cutback in Ryanair’s schedule because of staffing issues has also lessened the amount of seats available this winter in Europe.

That reduction in seat availability is helping to support prices this winter, with carriers such as easyJet, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM all declaring improving revenue trends during quarterly results.

German airports association ADV has also said the collapse of Air Berlin was noticeable, especially in domestic traffic, with passengers numbers plunging by 3.2% in October on inner-German routes.

Lufthansa said this week that it would extend the use of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet on various flights between Frankfurt and Berlin into December to provide more capacity on the oft-used route, even though it is not usually economically feasible to utilize such a huge plane on such a short route.

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