The Spanish competition control body opens a file on Booking.com

FOTO DE ARCHIVO. Imagen de ilustración de figuritas frente al logo de Booking.com. 27 de febrero de 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

FILE PHOTO. Illustration image of figurines in front of Booking.com logo design. February 27, 2022 REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

MADRID, Oct 17 (Reuters) -The National Markets and Competition Commission opened a file against the Dutch hotel reservation website Booking.com for possible anti-competitive practices affecting hotels and online travel agencies in the country.

The National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) said in a statement on Monday that the actions stem from two complaints filed by the Spanish Association of hotel Directors (AEDH) and the hotel Business Association of Madrid.

The CNMC found “reasonable grounds” to believe that Booking.com may have violated Spain’s antitrust laws, as well as article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which prohibits companies from abusing a dominant position in the market, he said.

Booking.com said in a statement that it would cooperate with the CNMC investigation to answer any questions related to your business in Spain.

“What we want is for these practices to end,” the president of the AEDH, Manuel Vegas, told Reuters. The Madrid hotel Business Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The watchdog will investigate the case over the next 18 months, during which time both parties will be able to present their arguments. If Booking.com is found to have breached Spanish competition law, you could face fines of between €100,000 ($97,350) and more than €10 million per infringement.

The complainants argued that the reservation website had imposed unfair conditions on hotels located in Spain and applied policies that could cause exclusion effects in other online travel agencies and web sales channels.

Some of these alleged practices could involve an abuse of the dominant position of Booking.com against the rival intermediation services offered by various online agencies to hotels, said the CNMC.

Booking.com could also have exploited Spanish hotels that are financially dependent on the popular accommodation services website, he added.

The watchdog did not mention any concrete examples of these alleged practices.

( Information from João Man uel Maurício in Gdansk and David Latona and Inti Lantauro in Madrid; edited in Spanish by Benjamín Mejías Valencia)

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