Brussels reinstates decision to fine airlines €776m

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Brussels has reinstated its 2010 decision to fine 11 airlines €776m for fixing air-cargo pricing, after the European general court annulled the decision on procedural grounds in December 2015.

On Friday, Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner, reinstated the cartel decision and fines related to fuel and security surcharges on cargo flights to and within the European Economic Area between December 1999 to February 2006.

Air Canada, Air France-KLM, British Airways, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, LAN Chile, Martinair, Qantas, SAS and Singapore Airlines together were fined €776m.

Immunity was granted to Lufthansa, and its subsidiary, Swiss International Air Lines as they notified the commission about the cartel and provided evidence.

Friday’s fines are slightly less than the 2010 total of €799m as Martinair’s fine was reduced to reflect its lower turnover and Qantas is not included in Friday’s total as it did not appeal the initial commission decision.

In the original case, the commission argued that the cartel co-ordinated the pricing of fuel surcharges and security measures imposed after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001.

In their appeal, the carriers argued that the specific evidence focused on four violations and failed to show that all the carriers were working together. The General Court agreed, ruling that the commission had not satisfactorily argued the case for a “single and continuous infringement” and found “there is a contradiction between the grounds of the decision and its operative part”.

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