Under existing agreements, the number of airline seats between continental capital or regional airports is generally divided precisely between the national carriers. This cartel is enshrined by law, competition is restricted by governments, and one airline would never permit another to gain a bigger share of the custom. Price fixing between airlines with majority trade at certain airports is also practised.
In 1993 it was alleged that liberalization of the airline market in Europe had failed to increase competition and that practices enshrined a culture of collusion. All but 26 of scheduled routes linking airports in the EEC/EU were monopolies or duopolies. Concerns expressed included misuse of computerized reservation systems, frequent flyer programmes, unfair payments of commission to win business away from smaller airlines. Merger or alliances were likely to lead to further reductions in competition.