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Swiss commission fines airlines over freight cartel

By Staff Reports on January 13, 2014

The Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) has fined 11 airlines a total of 11 million Swiss francs (US$12.2 million) regarding a freight cartel.

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 U.S. and the commissioning of surcharges. All those elements are part of the price that is charged for airfreight transport. COMCO described it as a horizontal price agreement case.

The COMCO fines the following airlines: Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd., Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc.), AMR Corporation (American Airlines), United Continental Holdings, Inc., SAS AB (Scandinavian Airlines), Japan Airlines Co., Ltd., Singapore Airlines Limited, Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, Cargolux Airlines International S. A., British Airways Plc. and Air France-KLM SA.

COMCO said Deutsche Lufthansa AG, as part of the cartel, triggered the legal proceedings by self-denunciation and avoided a fine. As a subsidiary of the Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Swiss International Air Lines AG also benefits from full immunity from the sanction.

After the initiation of the legal proceedings, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Air France-KLM SA and Cargolux submitted leniency applications and received substantial reductions of the sanctions.