Airport Handling and Catering Company Dnata Fined for Price Fixing

Airport handling and catering company dnata has been hit with a massive fine for illegal price fixing at its bars and restaurants at Bucharest Airport.

Collusion

According to local media, the Dubai-based company was fined 6.6 million RON (1.34 million euro) by Romania’s antitrust body for collusion, while five of its subcontractors have to pay 300,000 RON (61,000 EUR) in fines.

Dnata Catering, which manages the retail and food & beverage outlets at Bucharest Otopeni Airport, illegally fixed prices with its subcontractors.

An investigation started in 2019 found the companies involved coordinated the price levels at the food outlets, as well as discounts and promotion offers.

Because of the collusion, price levels were kept artificially high to maximise profits to the detriment of passengers.

bucharest airport otp otopeni shops cafe
Cafes and restaurants at Bucharest Otopeni Airport. ©Paliparan

Dnata

Established as Dubai National Air Travel Agency in 1959, dnata is one of the largest airport handling and catering companies in the world.

The company is involved in passenger and freight handling, preparation of in-flight meals and airport retail in dozens of countries across the world.

Besides Bucharest, dnata offers its services at other major European airports such as Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Milan, Prague and Zurich.

airport price fixing bucharest otopeni
A coffee and a pastry at Bucharest Airport could easily cost you 10 EUR.. ©Paliparan

My take

I’m not at all surprised to read this news. As a frequent passenger at Bucharest Airport, I always thought it had inexplicable high price levels at its bars and restaurants.

The prices you pay for simple things like a cappuccino or a sandwich are much higher than you would find at an airport in let’s say Germany – which is rather bizarre given that price levels in Romania are much lower.

Although I never suspected that collusion was to blame for it, it does make sense in retrospect. I’m therefore quite curious to see if in the coming months price levels will drop.

Of course, airport prices will always be higher than in the city given that retail space is more expensive, but with this massive fine and the authorities for sure keeping a close watch I would expect price levels to fall.

airport price fixing bucharest otopeni
Bucharest Otopeni Airport. ©Paliparan

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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