The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has released a summary of discussions held in February 2007 by the Study Group on Government Regulations and Competition Policy about the current Antimonopoly Act exemption for international airfare setting consultations. Such consultations are conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and involve airlines from around the world. Although designed to facilitate cooperation among the airlines with respect to matters on which the airlines do not compete, the IATA conferences have been the subject of recent scrutiny by competition regulators. In October 2006, for example, the European Commission adopted rules that lifted the block exemption for consultations that determined passenger tariffs for so-called “interline” tickets, which could be used for flights on multiple carriers, and certain airport slot and scheduling arrangements.

The Japanese Study Group will now prepare a formal report to the JFTC that will outline the issues related to repealing the IATA exemption and present its recommendations. Once issued, the JFTC will likely solicit public comments on the report.