Emirates to cooperate with South Africa investigation into 'incentives to travel agents'

Emirates airline has said it will “cooperate fully” with South African authorities in an investigation into claims that the ­Dubai carrier offered incentives to travel agents to divert sales from competitors between 2010 and 2014.

“We take compliance with competition law very seriously wherever we operate, and we are cooperating fully with the [competition] commission’s inquiry,” an Emirates spokeswoman said. The airline said that it would not make any further comment at this stage since the investigation was an ongoing matter.

South Africa’s Competition Commission confirmed that it was investigating Emirates for abuse of dominance under the Competition Act, Business Day, a Johannesburg publication reported. The act bans a firm from “inducing” a customer to not deal with a competitor.

According to the commission, the investigation has been in place since April last year.

“Unfortunately, I am unable to tell when the investigation will be completed, but substantial work has been done,” Itumeleng Lesofe, the spokesman for the Competition Commission, told Business Day.

The incident is the latest issue for the airline in South Africa.

In 2014, the country’s transport department said that a fourth flight to Johannesburg given to Emirates was awarded by an individual who was not authorised to do so. Emirates operates flights to and from Joh­annesburg, Cape Town and Durban in South Africa.

The carrier is keen to serve many cities in Africa, as the UAE grows in popularity as a base for multinational companies serving the African market. The UAE’s links with the continent have swelled in recent years amid rising trade and investment.


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Shereen El Gazzar

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