The Australian Federal Court has ordered Air New Zealand to pay A$15 million (US$11m) in penalties for its involvement in a long-running cargo price-fixing case.
The legal action was brought by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), which began the investigation into this case in 2006.
Air New Zealand and Garuda Indonesia were the only two carriers yet to be fined by the court, out of the 15 originally charged.
The court found that the New Zealand airline agreed to fix fuel and insurance surcharges on air freight services from Hong Kong, and insurance and security charges from Singapore between 2002 and 2007.
The court ordered Air NZ to pay a pecuniary penalty of AU$11.5 million for price fixing on Hong Kong to Australia, and AU$3.5 million for price fixing on surcharges from Singapore to Australia. Air New Zealand also agreed to pay AU$2 million towards the ACCC’s legal costs.
In a statement, ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said the court decision "sends a strong warning to overseas and domestic operators that the ACCC can and will continue to defend competition and the rights of Australian customers and businesses by taking action against anti-competitive conduct.”
ACCC said that since it first started its investigation into the air cargo cartel in 2006, it has imposed penalties of AU$113.5 million against 14 airlines, including the biggest, AU$20 million, to Australian airline Qantas. Air New Zealand’s AU$15 million is the second highest fine. Judgment on Garuda Indonesia has been reserved.
Nol van Fenema