Competition Authority investigation of THY to resume soon

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The Competition Authority (RK) will resume an investigation into whether Turkish Airlines (THY) abused its market position by undercutting competitors, Turkish news outlets reported on Thursday.

Pegasus Airlines had originally filed a complaint against THY in 2010, which prompted the RK to open an investigation into the matter. Following the investigation, the board ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove that THY was guilty of exclusionary practices and dropped the charges.

That decision, which was made at the end of 2011, was overturned last year by Ankara’s 11th Administrative Court, which cited deficiencies in the RK reports. The RK subsequently decided to reopen the investigation into THY. In January of this year, the investigation was postponed for four months, meaning that the investigation is likely to resume in the coming weeks. It will be followed by a final decision from the RK.

Last year, Pegasus Airlines Chairman Ali SabancI claimed that when the low-budget carrier began to offer flights from Istanbul to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, THY drastically reduced the prices of its Istanbul-Bishkek flights. Pegasus is THY’s major competitor in Turkey.

THY is Turkey’s flagship carrier, and 49 percent of the airline is publicly owned. Earlier this week, THY Chairman Hamdi Topçu announced that the airline is considering banning former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Muhammet Çetin from boarding its flights.

Çetin was escorted by police from a plane scheduled to take off for Chicago on April 11 on the grounds that he was a “dangerous passenger.” Çetin, now an independent deputy, claims that he was blacklisted by the airline following his resignation from and subsequent criticism of the AK Party in the midst of a corruption probe that broke on Dec. 17 of last year.

In recent months, THY also stopped carrying copies of newspapers such as Zaman, Taraf and Sözcu, all known for their critical stance toward the government.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)