Lastminute.com attacks French rail website

24th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 24 (AFP) - The head of the French subsidiary of Lastminute.com, the British online travel service, said Monday the unit would next month file a complaint with French competition officials against the online travel agency of the French state rail authority.

PARIS, May 24 (AFP) - The head of the French subsidiary of Lastminute.com, the British online travel service, said Monday the unit would next month file a complaint with French competition officials against the online travel agency of the French state rail authority.

Pierre Paperon said Voyages-Sncf.com and its US partner Expedia had hampered competition by "mingling public service and capitalistic practices" in marketing tourist holidays, hotel reservations, airline tickets and other services.

Management at Voyages-Sncf.com, contacted by telephone, had no comment.Paperon told AFP that Lastminute.com would seek financial compensation that had yet to be determined.

It would also press for "more transparency on the Voyages-Sncf.com site by differentiating SNCF ticket sales and other commercial activities."

Paperon said the marketing practices by Voyages-Sncf.com "have done major damage" to Lastminute.com, forcing it to increase its marketing budget by five to six percent.

"In the end it's the customer who pays," he said.

He added that Lastminute.com France last year had sales of EUR 220 million (USD 263 million), which he said was "much more that the purely touristic sales of Voyages-Sncf.com."

Voyages-Sncf.com in 2003 had revenue of EUR 467 million, of which EUR 380 million was from ticket sales and EUR 87 million from tourist sales. It foresees growth in overall sales of 54 percent this year to EUR 720 million.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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