Korea prepares price-fixing lawsuit

SOUTH Korean forwarders are preparing lawsuits against the airlines recently exposed for price fixing.

“Freight companies sustained the most obvious damage in the price-fixing schemes of the airlines and we believe more companies will join,” said Lee Dae-Soon, a lawyer at the law firm preparing for the class action suits against the airlines. “We are also considering pushing the class action jointly with companies under the Korea Shippers’ Council.

“Usually, the fines set by anti-trust regulators are equivalent to two to three per cent of the illicit earnings cumulated by the companies. So naturally, it would be reasonable to claim for a level of compensation about 30 times larger than the fines,” said Lee.

In May, the country’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) fined 19 airlines a total of 120 billion won (US$98 million), warning two others, for conspiring to introduce fuel surcharges for freight cargoes over the past seven years.

Korean Air Lines took the brunt of the fine – $39 million – with Asiana Airlines next heavily fined with $16 million. However, Korean Air will actually only pay $18 million because it voluntarily admitted its wrong doing to the FTC.

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