Mexico’s competition watchdog announced it has fined three maritime transportation companies 45.2 million pesos ($2.2 million USD) for allegedly engaging in monopolistic practices on a passenger route in Quintana Roo, reported law360.com, a legal news website.
Golfo Transportacion, Naviera Ocean GM, Naviera Magna and three related officials violated the country’s Federal Economic Competition Law by conspiring to coordinate fares and days of service on a route between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, according to the announcement by the Federal Economic Competition Commission, or COFECE.
Conservative estimates by the commission of the economic impact from the actions of the companies and the three officials — Jose Enrique Molina Casares, Hector Alejandro Matey Espadas and Arturo Baez Vega — from September 2013 to November 2015 is least 32 million pesos, according to the announcement.
The companies agreed to set intervening hours and dates for their services and manipulated and arranged artificially high prices, according to COFECE. The companies at times ran boats with low capacities, an indication that collusion was occurring, as they otherwise would have lowered prices or shifted departure times to higher demand periods on the route, the announcement said.
“The conduct is particularly grave because it deals with an essential service for the population and the economy of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and surrounding communities, because it affected not only the zone’s habitants, but the region’s tourism industry,” according to COFECE.
The 45.2 million peso fine equals the maximum possible fine under Mexico’s Federal Economic Competition Law, in part because Molina Casares and Baez Vega had previously violated the law for a similar infraction, according to the announcement.
The companies could not be reached immediately for comment.
In recent months, COFECE has also called for increased competition among airlines for takeoff and landing slots at Mexico City International Airport, identifying three types of slot assignments at MEX: long-term slots awarded through a seasonal process, mid-term slots issued during the season and short-term slots given out for adjustments on the day of a flight.
Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Aerovias de Mexico SA de CV were tentatively granted antitrust immunity for a $1.5 billion joint venture on flights between the U.S. and Mexico, on the condition that they divest enough takeoff and landing slots to ease competition concerns, the U.S. Department of Transportation said at the time.
The companies must divest slots sufficient to support 24 new daily transborder services from MEX and six from John F. Kennedy International Airport, the DOT said.
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