EU regulators to investigate 4 airlines' code-sharing deals

BRUSSELS — European Union regulators said Friday they will probe whether two separate agreements by airlines to sell each others' tickets on certain routes break EU competition law.

The investigations focus on so-called code-sharing deals between Deutsche Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines in one case and TAP Portugal and Brussels Airlines in the second case, the European Commission, the EU's top antitrust watchdog, said.

In contrast to regular code-sharing deals, where airlines sell seats on each others' flights to airports they don't serve, these agreements focused on routes both airlines fly to and where they should usually be competing, the Commission said,

The routes in question are Munich-Istanbul and Frankfurt-Istanbul for the Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines deal, and Brussels-Lisbon for the Brussels Airlines and TAP agreement.

"This form of free-flow, parallel, hub-to-hub code-share agreements may distort competition leading to higher prices and less service quality for customers on routes between Germany and Turkey and between Belgium and Portugal, respectively," the Commission said in a statement.

Heert Sciot, a spokesman for Brussels Airlines, said the carrier will cooperate with the investigation but declined to comment further.

Peter Scheckenleitner, a spokesman for Lufthansa, said the airline had been informed of the investigation but didn't yet know the details of the probe.

A spokeswoman for TAP said the carrier had received no formal notification about the investigation, but added that the company is "not worried (about the investigation) and is ready to cooperate in any way possible."

A spokesman for Turkish Airlines couldn't be reached for comment.