AIRLINES, BRITISH Airways (BA) and Qantas have been fined millions of pounds by a Federal Court in Sydney, for their part in an international freight price fixing cartel between 2002 and 2006.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which brought the action over the alleged price fixing of fuel surcharges in the international air cargo market, reached a settlement with the two airlines on Tuesday.
BA agreed to pay a fine of around 2.5 million euros, subject to the agreement of a judge, while Qantas, Australia’s national airline, agreed to pay 10 million euros.
The cartel has been the subject of inquiries and actions by regulators in the US and Europe as well as class action suits in the US, Australia and Britain.
According to Graeme Samuel, the Australian regulator’s chairman, both airlines were the first to be taken to court in Australia “because both came forward and voluntarily made admissions under the ACCC’s cooperation policy”. He added that both airlines have made staff available to assist and voluntarily respond to information requests.
The investigations into price fixing involve more than 30 other airlines, with predictions that it could take another two years for these to be completed.