DB Schenker seeks $2.5bn in cargo cartel compensation

German logistics giant DB Schenker is seeking estimated damages of $2.5bn after filing lawsuits in US and Germany against airlines involved in a global air cargo cartel between 1999 and 2006.
It has warned that the total damages could add up to more than $3.3bn.
The parent company, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, said that its logistics subsidiary will seek approximately $370m in the US and $2.2bn in Germany – including interest — from air cargo carriers found guilty by the US Department of Justice, the European Commission and other international authorities for operating a global price-fixing cartel.
The US portion could increase to an estimated $1.1bn if the court awards treble damages in the case.
DB Schenker, booking 1m tonnes of airfreight last year and with an estimated seven per cent market share of global airfreight, is the latest international forwarder to pursue civil litigation in an effort to recover significant damages from air cargo carriers that conspired to fix fuel and security surcharges from 1999 until 2006.
In August, divisional corporate parent Schenker AG filed a complaint against Air France, KLM, Martinair, Cargolux, Qantas, SAS and All Nippon Airways in the Eastern District of New York.
The complaint alleges that, in coordinating surcharge pricing for shipments to, from and within the US, the airlines violated US antitrust laws.
All defendants named in the Schenker AG complaint pleaded guilty in Department of Justice proceedings.

The German lawsuit, filed in December 2013 in Cologne, alleges defendants Deutsche Lufthansa, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Swiss Airlines, Cargolux, SAS, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines and Qantas were involved in the same conspiracy affecting airfreight shipments worldwide.
That lawsuit was filed last year in order to avoid any statute of limitations in the case.
A number of air cargo carriers in the US entered into settlement agreements both with class action plaintiffs and individual claimants in order to avoid protracted civil lawsuits.
Schenker AG agreed to settlements with some carriers but opted out of the settlement agreements by the named defendants in connection with the class action lawsuit.

Air Cargo News has approached a number of airlines for comment on the lawsuit.
Air France said: "Please be informed that our companies’ policy is to never comment those subjects." 
Lufthansa Cargo referred to statements in the 2013 annual report: "Various cargo airlines, including Lufthansa Cargo AG and Swiss International Air Lines AG, were involved in a cargo cartel in the period between December 1999 and February 2006. 
"Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Lufthansa Cargo AG and Swiss International Air Lines AG are at risk of civil claims for damages by customers in Germany, the UK, Norway, Australia, Israel and the Netherlands."
The  statement continued: "The plaintiffs are mostly claiming for unspecified damages. At present, it is not possible to give a concrete assessment of the outcome of the proceedings and of the number and amount of any other claims that may be brought.
"When evaluating the risk, it should nonetheless be kept in mind that the European Commission’s decision on the cargo cartel, which the plaintiffs in the civil lawsuits generally refer to, is still not definitive. Moreover, an expert economic opinion commissioned by Lufthansa Cargo AG and Swiss International Air Lines AG comes to the conclusion that the cartel did not inflict any actual damage on customers.

"Even if there were damages (i. e. allegedly higher cartel prices), the court will have to examine whether the plaintiffs did not pass them on to their own customers (in the case of the freight forwarders) or whether they were indeed passed on to them (in the case of the final customers)."
Did you find this article of interest, if so why not register for a FREE digital subscription to Air Cargo News? – Find out more
Life Sciences and Pharmaceuticals Conference 2014, to be held in London during December. To register and find out more…

Share this story

Related Topics

Latest airlines news

SF Airlines launches Ezhou-Budapest air cargo route

SF Airlines has launched an air cargo route linking Ezhou Huahu Airport in central China’s Hubei Province with Budapest International…

Read More

Share this story

Korean picks Air Incheon as preferred Asiana cargo bidder

Air Incheon has been named as the preferred bidder for the sale of Asiana Airlines’ cargo business as part of…

Read More

Share this story

Lufthansa Cargo launches freighter flights from Munich

Lufthansa Cargo will expand its regional freighter network in July with the addition of flights from Munich Airport for the…

Read More

Share this story

Air Cargo News

Air Cargo News
Established in 1983, Air Cargo News is the leading source of news, information, interviews, analyses and reports to the global airfreight industry. Our leading portfolio includes print, digital and events that give businesses in the airfreight industry the ability to connect with decision-makers in this sector.