Australian court approves cartel fines against European airlines

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An Australian court has formally ordered Air France-KLM, Cargolux and Martinair to pay a combined A$16 million ($11 million) in fines for price-fixing in their international air cargo operations.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced earlier this month that Air France-KLM had agreed to pay a fine of A$6 million, Cargolux A$5 million and Martinair A$5 million for breaching the price-fixing provisions of Australia's Trade Practices Act.

It says in a statement now that the Federal Court in Sydney has formally ordered the airlines to pay the fines it recommended.

The ACCC, which had already secured court-approved settlements with British Airways (BA) and Qantas Airways for similar violations, says Air France-KLM, Cargolux and Martinair each reached understandings with other airlines over fuel surcharges related to the international carriage of air cargo between early 2003 and 2006.

It says Air France and KLM admitted to reaching understandings with Lufthansa, Martinair admitted to having understandings with KLM and Cargolux and Cargolux reached such understandings with Lufthansa, Air France and KLM.

"This matter sends a clear message to those involved in cartel behaviour - the ACCC will not stop its endeavours to identify and bring to an end illegal price-fixing conduct," says ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.