EU reinstates €776m air cargo fines
The European Commission has re-adopted a cartel decision against 11 air cargo carriers and imposed fines totalling € 776 million for operating a price–fixing cartel.
The original decision, in 2010, was annulled by the EU’s general court in 2015 on the grounds that there have been a procedural error.
The companies fined in 2010 were Air Canada, Air France-KLM, British Airways, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, LAN Chile, Martinair, Qantas, SAS and Singapore Airlines. A twelfth cartel member, Lufthansa, and its subsidiary, Swiss International Air Lines, received full immunity from fines.
All carriers except Qantas appealed to the EU’s General Court against the Commission’s 2010 decision. In December 2015, the General Court annulled the Commission’s decision against the 11 cartel participants that appealed, concluding that there had been a procedural error.
However, it did not rule on the existence of the cartel. The Commission maintains that these air cargo carriers participated in a price-fixing cartel and is adopting a new decision and re-establishing the fines.
In a statement, the commission said the new decision addresses the procedural error identified by the General Court while remaining identical in terms of the anticompetitive behaviours targeted.
Cargolux, which was fined €79.9m, responded to the decision saying: “Cargolux acknowledges the decision issued today by the European Commission in the airfreight cartel case. This development did not come as a surprise: previous communications from the European Commission had indicated its intention to re-adopt a decision in this case. At this stage Cargolux is reviewing the decision and has not yet decided whether to lodge an application for annulment with the General Court.”