23 Apr 2013

Airlines fined for price-fixing

4:25 pm on 23 April 2013

A long-running dispute over price-fixing in the air freight business has led to 10 companies being fined a total of $35 million.

On Monday, the High Court imposed penalties on three airlines. Cathay Pacific was ordered to pay $4.3 million, Thai Airways $2.7 million and Malaysia's MASkargo System Berhad $2.6 million.

Seven other airlines settled earlier, including British Airways, Japan Airlines and Qantas.

Of the remaining three airlines, proceedings were discontinued against United and Garuda, while Air New Zealand still remains to be dealt with.

The penalties were recommended to the court by New Zealand's Commerce Commission and each airline as part of pre-trial settlements.

The offences took place between 2000 and 2006 and concerned surcharges levied for fuel and security.

Air New Zealand has refused to comment, saying the matter is before the courts. The commission has confirmed it is in discussions with airline to seek an out-of-court resolution.

The Importers Institute secretary Daniel Silva on Tuesday welcomed the prosecution of companies which engage in anti-competitive practices, saying when airlines get together and cook up prices, importers end up paying more.