Deutsche Bahn (DB) objects today's decision by the Federal Cartel Office. The decision would require DB to make numerous changes to its sales model. The proceedings stemmed from complaints brought by several international online sales platforms. The issue originally focused on the sharing of real-time data, including, for example, the forecast arrival and departure times of ICE and Intercity trains. DB made it clear early on that it would share its real-time data with its distribution partners starting June 7 as part of a Europe-wide package to improve passenger rights.
However, today’s decision now goes far beyond the original demands and would force DB to remunerate online platforms for the sale of DB tickets, even if this does not offer any added value for DB due to DB's own very well-developed sales channels. The online platforms are often backed by well-funded major U.S. banks, international asset management companies and funds. In addition, the decision would also force DB to release its trademarked terms and sales channel designations such as "DB Navigator" and "bahn.de" for search engine marketing of the online platforms. As a result, customers searching for the term "bahn.de," for example, may end up on the page of an online platform. This allows the platforms to steer customers away from DB channels to their own channels.
The decision of the Federal Cartel Office has far-reaching financial consequences for DB. The substantial additional burden resulting from the required changes to the sales model will not be offset by corresponding savings or additional revenues. With bahn.de and the DB Navigator app DB itself has high-performing and effective sales platforms which it wishes to invest in and expand. The decision will place additional financial burdens on DB, which in the worst case will lead to higher ticket prices and lower investment.
The Federal Cartel Office is interfering in core issues of DB's entrepreneurial freedom. DB plans to appeal the decision.