Competition Commission probes SAA-Airlink deal

The Competition Commission will probe the franchise agreement between national carrier SAA and its privately owned partner Airlink after it received a formal complaint regarding the matter.

Competition Commission spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said the organisation had received a complaint, but would not name the complainant.

“It’s from a potential new entrant into this market. The complainant alleges that there’s exclusionary conduct because SAA refused to grant it access to the portal and booking system it shares with Airlink,” Ngwema said.

City Press has seen documents relating to the complaint that confirm that airline Fly Modern Ark’s co-founder, Theunis Crous, filed a complaint with the commission earlier this month.

Attempts to get hold of Crous proved fruitless, but he was quoted in a media reports saying that he laid the complaint. The long-standing franchise agreement between SAA and Airlink cost the latter airline R14.5 million in 2000 and has been a cause for concern for some industry players.

The agreement gives Airlink unlimited use of SAA’s intellectual property – including the SAA flight designator, which is the booking system that allows Airlink flights to be hosted on the SAA code designated by the International Air Transport Association.

SAA owns 2.9% of Airlink.

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