Qantas fined NZ$6.5m in cargo cartel case

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New Zealand's High Court has ordered Qantas Airways to pay a NZ$6.5 million ($6.3 million) fine for its involvement in an international cargo cartel, after the Oneworld carrier agreed in March to plead guilty to the charges.

The penalty is the highest handed down in New Zealand to date for price fixing, says the country's competition watchdog New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC).

In March, Qantas agreed to settle with the NZCC, which initiated legal action against the airline and 12 other carriers in 2008 for price-fixing practices. The settlement included a recommendation to the court to fine Qantas NZ$6.5 million.

"The judge noted that the starting point for the penalty was NZ$13 million, with a 50% discount for Qantas' high level of co-operation with the commission's investigation," says the NZCC.

Qantas is the third carrier to settle with the commission, following British Airways and Cargolux International Airlines. Qantas' penalty brings the total settlement amount in the case to NZ$14.1 million.

Last month, the commission decided to drop legal proceedings against Garuda Indonesia and six Air New Zealand executives.

Legal action is still continuing against eight other airlines, with hearings commencing this month.