Indian airlines have fines for alleged cargo cartel set aside

Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo have been given the opportunity to have fines levied against them by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for an alleged air cargo cartel overturned.
Late last year, Jet Airways was fined R1.5bn, IndiGo received a R637.4m penalty and SpiceJet was hit with a R424.8m fine for allegedly fixing air cargo fuel surcharges.
However, India’s Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) yesterday (April 18) set aside the fines and told the CCI it must reconsider the decision.
The CAT ruled that the CCI had not given the airlines an opportunity to show that they had “not formed any cartel for jacking-up fuel surcharges”.
The CCI decision last year came after its joint director general issued a report stating there was no evidence the airlines had formed a cartel.
Despite the findings of the joint director general, the CCI decided to issue the fines.
However, the CAT said that as the director general report said there was no evidence of a cartel and the CCI had failed to indicate it disagreed with the report the airlines had not issued a response.
They would have done so if they knew the CCI disagreed with the joint director general’s report.
The CAT said: “If the [CCI] had informed the appellants that it proposes to disagree with the findings and conclusions recorded by the joint director general and given them an opportunity to file objections against the reasons for disagreement and also given them chance of oral hearing, then the latter may have put forwarded various arguments to persuade/convince the CCI that the joint director general had rightly returned a negative finding on the issue of formation of [a] cartel.”
The full findings of the CAT can be found here.

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