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Airtours v. Commission
European Union Court of Justice
2002 E.C.R. II-2585 (2002)
Two short-term-holiday tour companies located in the United Kingdom, Airtours (defendant) and First Choice, wanted to merge. The United Kingdom market included hundreds of tour operators, including smaller, secondary tour operators and large tour operators. Airtours and First Choice were both large operators, with Airtours holding 21 percent of the market share and First Choice holding 11 percent of the market share. Altogether, the larger operators controlled 79 percent of the market. Each operator’s performance varied by season and within each season. In determining the next year’s tour offerings, each company independently decided which packages to offer. Although an operator might know the total number of package types that its competitors planned to offer, operators were not privy to private details about each operator’s planned offerings. The European Commission (commission) (plaintiff) analyzed the proposed merger and concluded that it should be blocked because it would create a collective dominant position between the merged firm and two other large tour operators. The commission found that those firms would be able to engage in oligopolistic conduct in the United Kingdom in violation of European antitrust law.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning
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