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Several carriers settle airfreight cartel lawsuits

By Hpanchal on August 16, 2011

Cargolux, Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), Qantas and Singapore Airlines have settled class-action lawsuits in the Canadian court system regarding the price-fixing cartel that took place from 2000 to 2006. This news comes on the heels of Saudi Arabian Airlines’ $14 million settlement for similar charges.

In exchange for having their names cleared of any wrongdoing, SAS, Qantas, Cargolux and Singapore Airlines agreed to pay the Canadian plaintiffs a combined total of CAD$3.38 million. All four carriers deny any conspiracy to fix prices for airfreight shipping services.

Cargolux was slapped with the heftiest fee, consenting to pay CAD$1.8 million to the plaintiffs. Singapore Airlines had the second-largest settlement payment, agreeing to forfeit CAD$1.05 million, CAD$800,000 of which was directed toward a settlement fund and CAD$250,000 which was retribution for administrative fees.

Rounding out the settlement were SAS’ and Qantas’ payments of CAD$300,000 and CAD$237,000, respectfully.

These weren’t the only settlements in the price-fixing conspiracy to garner headlines recently, however. Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP, one of four firms representing purchasers affected by the airfreight cartel, announced that Saudi Arabian Airlines has joined the ranks of carriers that have settled in the case.

So far, Kaplan Fox; Labaton Sucharow; Levin, Fishbein, Savran & Berman; and Hausfeld LLP have collected $454.4 million in retribution from 14 carriers. Of this figure, $278.4 million has received final approved from the court, encompassing the payments of nine defendant groups.

Three of the most recent carriers to reach settlement with the U.S. defendants, however, are Malaysia Airlines, British Airways and LAN Airways. Kaplan Fox won the $3.2 million Malyasi settlement, and Hausfield settled with British Airways and LAN Airlines in June for more than $150 million.

Commenting on the British Airways and LAN Airlines settlement, the firm’s chairman, Michael Hausfeld, believed that justice was served. “These two important settlements, returning over $150 million to claimants, represent yet another excellent result for the U.S. class, which is fast approaching half a billion dollars in recoveries from settling defendants,” he said at the time.

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