Swiss regulator fines airlines for freight rate cartel

January 10, 2014
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A jet flying in the skies/FILE
A jet flying in the skies/FILE
GENEVA, Jan 10 – Switzerland’s competition authority said on Friday that it had fined 11 airlines for fixing the freight market a decade ago, with Air France-KLM hit with the highest penalty.

“Between 2000 and 2005 several airlines agreed on certain elements of the price for air freight transport,” it said in a statement.

“The investigation of the Competition Commission revealed that the airlines had agreed on freight rates, fuel surcharges, war risk surcharges, customs clearance surcharges for the US and the commissioning of surcharges,” it added.

Such behaviour constituted a “serious infringement” of anti-cartel laws, it underlined.

The 11 carriers were fined a total of 11 million Swiss francs (9.16 million euros, $12 million).

The penalty for Franco-Dutch company Air France-KLM was 3.9 million Swiss francs, which the competition authority noted was a “substantial reduction” on the potential sanction, after the carrier submitted a leniency application.

American Airlines was ordered to pay 2.2 million francs, and United Airlines, 2.1 million.

Also sanctioned were British Airways, Korean Air Lines, US company Atlas Air, Nordic carrier SAS, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways, and Luxembourg-based Cargolux.

Like Air France-KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and Cargolux also received reduced sanctions after asking for leniency.

The competition authority said that the case was opened after Germany’s Lufthansa opted to reveal the market fixing, in which it was itself involved.

As a result of having turned itself in, Lufthansa was granted immunity from any sanctions, along with its subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines which also took part in market collusion.

The competition authority said that the US Department of Justice and authorities in the European Union — of which Switzerland is not a member — had also investigated and fined various airlines involved in the case.

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