Crunch-time in NZ cartel case

TODAY the New Zealand Commerce Commission begins its case against nine airlines under fire for alleged freight price collusions.

Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Japan Airlines (pictured), Korean Air, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines Cargo and Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways face the accusation.

The first stage of the cartel case will lay the establishment for the bulk of the case due in July 2012 to deal with the price-fixing allegations. The Commission is preparing to test whether it could pursue price-fixing conduct that occurred overseas.

“We need to know whether deliberate collusion overseas [which] affect New Zealand markets is something that we can take enforcement action against,” Commerce Commission general counsel for enforcement Mary-Anne Borrowdale said.

If the court finds the commission has no jurisdiction over the inbound market, the second part of the trial will be limited to the outbound market.

Three airlines agreed settlements in March, which involved admitting liability and paying penalties. British Airways paid NZ$6 million (US$4.7 million), Cargolux NZ$1.6 million ($1.3 million) and Qantas Airways a reported NZ$6.5 million ($5.1 million) fine.

Cathay and Singapore narrowly escaped a further non-compliance charge after they had failed to supply information. The airlines have since submitted the requested information and charges have been dropped.

Share this story