Letter: Condemnation for airline that swooped to conquer

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'A case for Inspector DTI' (13 January) suggests that Department of Trade and Industry inspectors should be sent to investigate British Airways. An investigation of its conduct is certainly desirable, but the most serious issue raised by its behaviour is whether British competition policy is adequate to ensure that competition is established within the airline industry.

The director-general of fair trading has the power to investigate anti-competitive behaviour - such as that of BA - but he cannot do so in the international civil aviation industry. BA's behaviour suggests that this limitation should be removed; its conduct concerned international airline services, and the Government is supposed to desire increased competition in such services. If the dominant airlines are to be allowed to employ 'dirty tricks' to try to drive newcomers out of business, competition is unlikely to increase and travellers will not benefit from lower fares or better services.

The Government has shown no public concern about anti-competitive practices in the airline industry; and, despite the evidence of BA's conduct, it has continued to support its efforts to expand into the US market as if it were the British chosen instrument. It is time that it recognised that British Airways has been trying to undermine its policies and that BA should be regulated more effectively to permit competition to grow.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID SAWERS

Angmering-on-Sea, West Sussex

13 January

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