Spain’s antitrust watchdog probes travel agencies for alleged cartel

(Reuters) – Spain’s competition watchdog said on Wednesday it was probing several travel agencies and their parent companies for allegedly engaging in cartel behaviour in Spain and abroad, which – if confirmed – could carry fines of up to 10% of their turnover.

CNMC, as the watchdog is known, said in a statement that the companies possibly shared customers, allocated public tenders among themselves and exchanged commercially sensitive information – actions that would breach both Spanish and European antitrust laws.

The ten companies under investigation include retail giant El Corte Ingles and Mallorca-based tourism group Barcelo, as well as their respective travel agency subsidiaries, CNMC said. It also named travel firms IAG7 and Wamos.

El Corte Ingles declined to comment. IAG7, Wamos and Barcelo did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

CNMC said it had carried out searches of the companies’ headquarters between March 28 and March 31.

The probe and the CNMC’s final ruling are set to be completed within two years, the watchdog added.

(Reporting by Jakub Olesiuk; Editing by Inti Landauro and Mark Potter)