The Antitrust Authority imposes fine of 1.67 million Euros on Aeroporti di Roma for abusing its dominant position

23 January 2009

Claudia Crupi

On 23 October 2008, the Antitrust Authority decided that Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) had abused its dominant position by levying excessive charges for refuelling and sub-letting office facilities to freight operators.  AdR also found that the system of charges for access to Rome Fiumicino’s Cargo City hindered free competition and damaged other handlers.  However, various other alleged abuses were dismissed.

AdR holds an exclusive licence for the joint management of Rome’s airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino, which continues until 2044.  Numerous freight operators, and associations of freight operators (ALAS, ASSODOR and ANAMA) as well as the Italian Board Airlines Representatives, had complained that AdR’s conduct, in various ways, was anticompetitive.

On 14 December 2006, the Antitrust Authority opened an investigation under Article 82 EC, and the decision was published on 23 October 2008.

The complainants alleged that AdR had charged an excessive fee for refuelling services.  The Antitrust Authority found that the fee from 2004-2005, at 7.20 Euros per cubic metre, including an infrastructure fee, was over 50% higher than the real value of the service – which should not have exceeded 4.72 Euros per cubic metre. Since AdR was found to have a dominant position in its market, such excessive prices were found to be abusive.  The fine for this abuse was set at 402,000 Euros.

Secondly, it was found that AdR charged freight handlers for office space at rents that were more than double those of independent cargo companies.  The benchmark price for the latter was 12.97 Euros per square metre, per month, whereas AdR charged 27.60 Euros per square metre, per month.  The fine for this abuse was 196,000 Euros.

Thirdly, AdR used access charges for Cargo City at Fiumicino to raise the price for companies seeking to use a competing handler for the preparation of goods.  AdR would charge outside handlers a sum equivalent to the full charge it applied for handling export goods.  For AdR this sum was reduced to a level below the costs of an as-efficient competitor.  The Antitrust Authority imposed a fine of 1,070,000 Euros for this abuse.

The Antitrust Authority rejected complaints in three further areas.  First, there was insufficient evidence of excessive and inequitable pricing for using centralised infrastructure.  Secondly, there was no excessive pricing regarding the fee charged to security operators for additional security services.  Finally, there was no excessive pricing regarding common and/or exclusive catering services, as the prices were in large part aligned with costs.