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Japan Airlines, Air New Zealand in price fixing case

SYDNEY, May 17 – Australia accused Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand on Monday of price-fixing on air cargo, bringing to 15 the number of carriers being pursued by the nation\’s corporate watchdog on the issue.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it had begun legal proceedings against the companies for allegedly colluding with other airlines to fix the level of certain surcharges between 2002 and 2006.

These understandings "had the purpose or effect of fixing the price of a fuel surcharge and a security surcharge that were applied to air cargo carried by them and other airlines," the ACCC said.

The watchdog is already pursuing some of the world\’s major airlines over alleged price-fixing by their freight wings, including Singapore Airlines Cargo, Cathay Pacific and Emirates.

The ACCC has won cases against several airlines it accused of fuel surcharge price-fixing, winning fines of 20 million dollars (17.5 million US) and five million dollars from Qantas and British Airways respectively.

Air France and KLM — which have now merged — as well as Martinair and Cargolux were ordered to pay a total of 21 million dollars in separate proceedings.

Other airlines facing legal action are PT Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airways, Korean Air Lines and Malaysia Airlines.

In the cases against Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand, the watchdog alleges that arrangements were reached in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan for fuel surcharges applied to cargo originating in those places, and in Singapore and Hong Kong for understandings on security surcharges.

Preliminary hearings for Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand will be held in Sydney on June 10.

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