Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Another Air Freight Cartel Case Wrapped Up for Christmas by Antitrust Authorities

South African Tribunal Shoots Down Air Cargo Carrier with Another Huge Fine
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA – The current air cargo cartel case underway in South Africa is approaching the finish line after the country's Competition Tribunal handed out the final penalty in a four-year long lawsuit that stems from the now infamous dawn raids which saw numerous high profile cargo airlines and air freight carriers have their offices invaded by several antitrust commissions in countries around the globe. After news that the Luxembourg company is still one of several facing civil claims from another convicted freight forwarding cartel operator, airline Cargolux has been hit with yet another financial penalty.

It has not been the best of years for the carrier and now Cargolux has been fined nearly $950,000 over allegations that the cargo only airline colluded with seven other carriers to fix the price of fuel surcharges and cargo rates on freight flown into and out of South Africa between 1996 and 2006. Of the eight airlines involved in the South African scandal, Lufthansa Cargo gained immunity having initiated the investigation by applying for leniency, a trend very much prevalent in the group's recent history.

In 2012, the tribunal confirmed that the South African Competition Commission entered into settlement agreements with Air France-KLM Cargo incurring a fine of over $1.38 million and British Airways paying a penalty of around $543,000, and earlier this year in March, Martinair was fined over $530,000. The commission withdrew charges against Alitalia Cargo and Singapore Airlines.

The case against South African Airways (SAA) was somewhat more complicated with the air cargo case combined with two other complaints involving allegations of collusion with other airlines. SAA agreed to pay over $2 million to settle all three charges. The seemingly never ending tales of collusion dating back over a decade must surely now be reaching the end game. To see what a web of corruption existed throughout the freight industry in years past, simply type cartel into the News Search box at the head of any page.