EU fines Air France millions over air cargo cartel

An Air France Airbus A319 at Orly airport outside Paris.
An Air France Airbus A319 at Orly airport outside Paris. Reuters/Charles Platiau

The European Commission re-imposed a roughly 800-million-euro fine on Friday against global airlines that had colluded in an air cargo cartel, including Air France-KLM.


A top EU court had annulled the initial penalty in 2015, but the Commission’s Friday ruling reinstated it so as to sanction anti-competitive behaviour in the industry.

“Working together in a cartel rather than competing to offer better services to customers does not fly with the Commission,” wrote EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement.

“Today’s decision ensures that companies that were part of the air cargo cartel are sanctioned for their behaviour,” she said.

In 2010, 11 air cargo companies were fined a total of 790 million euros by the EU for colluding to fix fuel and security surcharges between 1999 and 2006. The Commission announced on Friday, however, that it had slightly adjusted the fine to 776 million euros.

Air France-KLM has received the largest fine of 310 million euros, followed by British Airways’ 104 million euros.

The companies involved were Air Canada, Air-France KLM, British Airways, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, LAN Chile, Martinair, Qantas, SAS Cargo and Singapore Airlines.

Lufthansa and its subsidiary Swiss Air were initially considered members of the cartel, but received full immunity from sanctions after cooperating with investigators.

SAS Cargo, a division of Scandinavian Airlines, has said that it will appeal the decision as it did not participate in the global cartel.

“We strongly question the European Commission’s move to re-impose a decision that has already been annulled once,” said SAS spokeswoman Marie Wohlfahrt, according to Associated Press.

“SAS takes competition rules extremely seriously and does not accept any breaches,” she added.

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