EC re-adopts €776m air cargo fines

The European Commission (EC) has said it will re-adopt a cartel decision against eleven air cargo companies, imposing fines of around €776 million for their operating a price fixing cartel in the early 2000’s.

The decision was originally made in 2010 but was annulled by the EU General Court in 2015 due to a procedural error on the part of the EC.

The eleven 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.

Excepting Qantas, all of them appealed to the EU General Court against the 2010 decision. In December 2015 the decision was annulled for the 11 carriers that appealed, concluding that there had been an error in the process by which the carriers had been fined.

The General Court didn’t rule on the existence of the cartel. The EC maintains that the carriers participated in a price fixing cartel, and is adopting a new decision. It is re-adopting the fines.

The EC released a statement that said the new decision now addresses the procedural error identified by the General Court. It otherwise remains 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.”  
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