Air NZ anger at Commission and Qantas claims

AIR New Zealand has denounced the country’s anti-cartel Commerce Commission over libellous statements.

Last week the commission and Qantas commented on negotiated settlements for cargo price-fixing. Air New Zealand alleges that both the commission and Qantas’s statements imply Air New Zealand and the other named airlines were guilty.

“The Commission…leaves an impression that all airlines involved in all jurisdictions are guilty and simply ‘awaiting hearing’ or ‘awaiting trial’. That is simply not true and the Commission knows it,” said John Blair, Air New Zealand’s general counsel.

The airline added: “Air New Zealand is also surprised at Qantas’ claim that its own illegal conduct included communication with Air New Zealand. Qantas has acknowledged in a number of offshore jurisdictions that it participated in widespread criminal behaviour, whereas neither Air New Zealand nor any Air New Zealand employees have been found guilty of such behaviour.

“Qantas has previously attempted to deflect attention from its own illegal conduct by making similar claims of Air New Zealand involvement to another investigator but this was given no weight. Qantas appears to be pursuing a strategy of trying to implicate other airlines in cartel investigations in the hope of securing more lenient treatment of its own conduct.”

British Airways, Cargolux and Qantas all negotiated settlements to the commission but it is still pursuing court action against 10 other airlines. The cases against them are expected to start in July 2012.

Those airlines include Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and Emirates, among others.

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