Australia’s competition watchdog has revoked an interim authorisation for five major car rental companies to negotiate with Cairns Airport due to the change in market conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) granted the interim authorisation in February after Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar, and Thrifty lodged an application to jointly negotiate with Cairns Airport, including discussions about their lease agreement for space, such as parking bays and counter space at the airport.
The ACCC said it decided to revoke the interim authorisation after a request by the car rental companies that the watchdog delay its decision about the substantive application.
The companies also indicated they would voluntary suspend collective negotiations, permitted under the interim authorisation, during the delay in considering the application.
“As the companies are not proposing to engage in the authorised conduct in the current circumstances, the interim authorisation is clearly no longer needed and it is appropriate we revoke it,” ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.
“Any authorisation, including interim authorisations, should only be in place for as long as they are needed.”
“The car rental companies have indicated they have no current need to be allowed to engage in the conduct which, without authorisation, could be in breach of competition laws.
“We are closely monitoring when to revoke any interim authorisations, including those granted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we expect them to cease when they are no longer appropriate.
“We also expect authorised parties to keep the ACCC updated of any relevant changes that impact their authorisation.”
The ACCC has extended the timetable to make a final decision on the application for authorisation by six months, and said it will seek feedback from interested parties “at a later stage”.
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