Australia fines JAL A$5.5m for cargo price-fixing

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Australia's Federal Court has fined Japan Airlines (JAL) A$5.5 million ($5.8 million), after the Oneworld carrier pleaded guilty for its involvement in a cargo price-fixing cartel.

JAL is the seventh airline to be fined for price-fixing after proceedings initiated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the country's competition watchdog. Including the penalty against JAL, seven airlines have been fined a total of A$46.5 million, says the commission.

The ACCC launched legal proceedings against JAL on 17 May 2010, alleging that it fixed fuel surcharges with other airlines from December 2003 to October 2005, as well as insurance and security surcharges from January 2003 to October 2006 on international freight from Singapore to other destinations including Australia.

"The company [JAL] has agreed to facilitate further assistance from JAL personnel and to provide access to additional documents for use against other respondents," says the ACCC's chairman Graeme Samuel.

"This cooperation has earned it a significant discount on the penalty that otherwise would have been sought."

JAL has also been ordered by the court to pay a A$200,000 contribution to the ACCC's costs.

Proceedings against Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates. Korean Air, Air New Zealand and Thai Airways International are ongoing, says the ACCC. The commission has also filed legal proceedings against Garuda Indonesia and Malaysia Airlines but these have been on hold pending the outcome of an appeal to be granted immunition from jurisdiction in Australian courts.