NZ monopoly watchdog prepares cartel case against int'l airlines

09:11, May 09, 2011      

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Anti-monopoly regulators in New Zealand face a court room showdown with a host of international airlines this week over charges that the carriers operated a cartel in the air cargo market.

The hearing against the airlines at the High Court in Auckland on Wednesday will be the culmination of a prosecution that began more than two years ago.

New Zealand's Commerce Commission accuses Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Japan Airlines International, Korean Air Lines, Malaysian Airlines System Berhad, Singapore Airlines Cargo and Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways International of colluding in the setting of air cargo prices.

The first stage of the cartel case, which is expected to last five weeks, will decide the parameters of the New Zealand market and whether regulators can take action against price-fixing abroad that affected cargo coming into the country.

It is believed the remainder of the case due to be heard in July next year will focus on the outbound freight market.

Any appeals against the first ruling would have to be heard before the second hearing.

The commission announced in December 2008 that it was taking action against 13 airlines and seven airline staff, including senior executives, for extensive and long-term cartel activity in the air cargo market.

It accused the airlines of colluding to raise the price of freighting cargo by imposing fuel surcharges for more than seven years, affecting cargo prices into and out of New Zealand.
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