Exclusive: Five carriers appeal cartel fines
Air Canada, KLM, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Cargolux Airlines International have all appealed fines levied to the carriers last November by the European Commission, according to the Court of Justice of the European Union. A total of 11 carriers were fined nearly €800 million for their alleged roles in an airfreight cartel.
The court also has pending cases brought by LAN Airlines/LAN Cargo, Singapore Airlines/Singapore Airlines Cargo, Lufthansa and British Airways, but these cases may be for matters unrelated to the cartel charges.
"I have no precise information at present other than the names, as the details have not yet been entered into our register, so I cannot say 100 percent whether these are also appeals against the cartel," a spokesman for the court wrote in an e-mail to Air Cargo World .
Since these airlines have just filed appeals, hearings are likely to be 12 to 18 months down the road. According to the court spokesman, judgments are passed down somewhere between six to 12 months after the hearing, but the wait is longer for more complicated cases.
The Commission alleged that the fines were a result of the carriers' imposing a flat-rate fuel surcharge for all shipments, introducing a security surcharge and refusing to pay freight forwarders. At €127.16 million, KLM's fine is the largest among the five carriers now appealing the decision. Cargolux was hit with a €79.9 million fine, and Cathay Pacific was fined €57.1 million. Japan Airways and Air Canada were fined €35.7 million and €21 million, respectively. The remaining carriers are Air France, British Airways, LAN Chile, Martinair, SAS, Singapore Airlines and Qantas. Lufthansa and SWISS received immunity, as they were the first airlines to provide information about the cartel.
In a separate e-mail, an Air Canada spokesman wrote: "We are contesting the decision made by the European Commission concerning cargo carriage by a number of airlines, including Air Canada, and we filed an application for appeal on Jan. 6, 2011, with the European General Court. Because it is a legal matter, our comments on this issue will be made through the established court process."
Cathay Pacific had said in November that the airline would likely appeal the decision.
When the fines were announced, Joaquín Almunia, the Commission's vice president for competition, commented that the alleged activities were "deplorable" and that "the Commission is sending a clear message that it will not tolerate cartel behavior."