Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Air Freight Holds Its Breath For EU Cartel Enquiry Results

European Union Set To Follow US, Canadian & Australian Claims
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – The long awaited results of the enquiry into price fixing by many major carriers are anticipated with relish by major freight forwarding groups and with fear and trepidation by the airlines involved.

After the EU announce its findings it is anticipated that the European Union’s Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, will make a statement in the near future setting out the terms required by the EU in claims against cartels under its antitrust brief. This clarification is liable to ease the passage of those who wish to take out class actions against offenders.

Much of the anticipated litigation will be against passenger services but a substantial portion of the monies involved will be allocated to compensating air freight companies who have paid for cargo carriage in Europe.

We have detailed in previous Handy Shipping Guide stories some of the amounts involved in the New Zealand, Australian and US antitrust cases but what is certain is that figures like the £350 million BA have set aside as a provision against fines and litigation may be woefully short of the mark by the time all claims are settled.

No one in the relevant EU departments was prepared to give a statement on the affair at this stage.

In other air freight news, IATA has raised its gloomy prediction of losses for the year to $11 billion from the already depressing $9 billion with a further loss of $3.8 billion foreseen for 2010. Air freight tonnage was down 9.6% in August compared to 2008 but this was seen as an improvement over the corresponding 11.3% drop in July.

Meanwhile the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) announced that freight tonnage, which had fallen by more than 20% in each of the first four months of the year, had now decreased by less than 20% four the subsequent months. August was down 12.2% against 2008.

“The airline industry remains in critical condition, despite some signs of a modest recovery in traffic volumes in recent months,” said Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general.