The Spanish competition authority has opened a new antitrust inquiry into online travel company Booking.com, focusing on unfair trade conditions and commercial strategies.

The National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) announced that it will investigate whether Booking.com enforces unfair terms on Spanish hotels and if its practices have repercussions on other online travel agents.

The investigation is the result of complaints submitted by the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers and the Madrid Regional Hotel Association. If Booking.com’s activities are determined to be an abuse of power, the company faces penalties of up to 10 percent of its global revenue.

Investigation report in 18 months

The company said that it always has and will continue to work closely with its lodging partners in the travel industry, which has recently shown indications of revival after a troublesome COVID-19 period.

It added that it would continue to work relentlessly to acquire and fulfil much-needed demand for its lodging partners, assisting them in filling their rooms daily. The CNMC has 18 months to decide if the corporation has breached competition regulations.

Booking.com may be designated as a gatekeeper

After having examined the complaints and the material acquired during the preliminary inquiry, the CNMC says there is reason to believe that Booking.com breached Articles 2 and 3 of the Spanish Competition Act (SCA) and Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TEFU).

Booking.com, a survivor of pioneering internet firms, has long been a source of concern for European Union politicians, reportedly helping to force a revamp of the bloc’s antitrust legislation, which is set to begin next year. Booking.com is a strong candidate for designation as a gatekeeper under the pan-EU Digital Markets Act (DMA).