ACCC takes action against Emirates for alleged air freight price fixing

18 August 2009

As a result of its continued investigation into alleged price fixing in the air cargo industry, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Emirates.

The ACCC alleges that between 2002 and 2006, Emirates entered into arrangements or understandings with other international air cargo carriers that had the purpose and effect of fixing the price of certain fuel surcharges, security surcharges and rates that were applied to air cargo carried by Emirates and other airlines.

The ACCC alleges that the arrangements or understandings were reached in countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and India.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctive relief, pecuniary penalties, and costs. A directions hearing has been set down for September 11 2009 at 9:30 a.m. in the Federal Court in Sydney.

Emirates is the ninth airline to be the subject of ACCC proceedings for fuel surcharge price fixing. On December 11 2008, the Federal Court ordered Qantas Airways Limited and British Airways PLC to pay penalties of $20 million and $5 million respectively, as jointly submitted by the parties. On February 16 2009, the Federal Court ordered the following companies to pay penalties as jointly submitted by the parties: Société Air France ($3m); Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij NV (KLM) ($3m); Martinair Holland NV ($5m) and Cargolux International Airlines SA ($5m).

The total pecuniary penalties to date ordered against respondent airlines in these matters is $41 million.

In addition, the ACCC instituted proceedings in the Federal Court:

  • on December 23 2008 against Singapore Airlines Cargo Pte Ltd
  • on April 30 2009 against Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.

The proceedings against Singapore Airlines Cargo Pte Ltd and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd continue.

The ACCC continues to investigate other airlines with the assistance of cooperating parties, and further actions are expected over the next few months.

Release number: 
NR 195/09
ACCC Infocentre: 

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