ACCC claims “significant victory” in long-running cargo cartel case.
The High Court of Australia today found that price fixing agreements entered into by Air New Zealand, Garuda Indonesia and other international airlines, which occurred between 2002 and 2006, breached Australian competition laws.
The long-running, highly contested case has already seen almost $100 million in fines paid by other carriers including Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Air France/KLM, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and more.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took action against Air NZ in 2009 and Garuda in 2010, alleging they colluded with other airlines on charges for fuel, security, insurance surcharges and a customs fee, for the carriage of air freight from origin ports in Hong Kong (both airlines), Singapore (Air NZ) and Indonesia (Garuda) to destination ports in Australia.
Appeals lodged by each airline were unanimously dismissed today, with the High Court finding that all aspects of the market, including the presence of customers in Australia, need to be considered in deciding whether a market is ‘in Australia’.
“How a market is defined, including considerations of whether conduct occurs in Australia, are critical issues to the understanding and interpretation of Australian competition law,” said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court.
“Today’s judgement sends a clear message that the ACCC is committed to pursuing cartel conduct that impacts on Australian business and consumers,” she said.
The matters against Air New Zealand and Garuda will now be remitted to the Federal Court for a further hearing which will consider penalties to be levied against the airlines.
More details in today’s issue of Travel Daily.