New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has filed criminal charges against Aerolineas Argentinas, Singapore Airlines Cargo and Cathay Pacific Airways for failing to provide documents needed in relation to a commission investigation into allegations of price fixing in the air cargo market to and from New Zealand.

The commission says in a statement it has filed criminal charges against Aerolineas Argentinas, Singapore Airlines Cargo and Cathay Pacific Airways because these three failed to comply with statutory notices from the commission requiring that they hand over documents needed to help with the commission’s investigation into allegations of price fixing.

The competition watchdog says it set a specific deadline for compliance, a date in November 2007, but the airlines failed to comply.

“Statutory notices are a key investigative tool used by the commission to gather evidence,” it says, adding that “parties who receive notices cannot refuse to supply documents or information to the commission as this may prejudice an investigation.”

A district court in Auckland will decide on the matter and if found guilty the airlines could each be fined up to NZ$30,000 ($23,000), it says.

New Zealand is heavily dependent on air cargo services to transport its perishable food stuffs – such as dairy products, meats and fruits - to markets in Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

The commission’s chair, Paula Rebstock, says price fixing “cartels are insidious and cause extensive damage to the New Zealand economy.”

“They are difficult to detect and extremely difficult to investigate because of their secretive nature.”

“The investigation into an alleged cartel in air cargo markets to and from New Zealand is continuing,” she adds.

Source:'s sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news

Source: Flight International