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By Zweli Mokgata and Reuters | Apr 07, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

MANGO Airlines and South African Airways hid information from the Competition Commission - which is investigating allegations of price fixing - spurring a raid on the airlines' offices at the end of last month.

The commission said yesterday it had "conducted a search and seize" operation at the offices of SAA, Mango and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa on March 31.

The searches formed part of the commission's investigation into collusion in the airlines industry around the Fifa World Cup period.

The commission revealed in January that it had began investigating SAA, BA-Comair, 1Time, Mango, SA Airlink and SA Express after concerns were voiced over ticket prices being manipulated to maximise profits from the world's biggest soccer tournament.

Deputy commissioner Thembinkosi Bonakele told Sowetan: "We cannot provide specifics right now since we are still investigating, but when we looked at their submissions it became clear to us that both Mango and SAA, which applied for leniency, were hiding information.

"If we ask for pricing information, for instance, and we later compare notes with other airlines, we would be able to see that there are large sections missing."

The commission said that when investigations began last year SAA had promised to co-operate, provided it was excluded from prosecution.

Except for SAA, the other airlines have denied the allegations but said they would cooperate with the commission.

The commission said yesterday it seized documents and electronic data during the raid, which will now be analysed together with other information gathered to determine whether a contravention of the Competition Act has taken place.

Bonakele said the investigation was launched shortly after a letter of complaint was sent in December by President Jacob Zuma - who was concerned about airline pricing around the World Cup period.

In January SAA applied for leniency in exchange for information about fellow cartel members.


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