Antitrust: Commission imposes a new 776 million euro fine for a cartel in the air cargo industry

From December 1999 to February 2006 air cargo carriers participated in a cartel to fix prices, in the airfreight services market covering flights from, to and within the European Economic Area (EEA). In November 2010, the European Commission concluded its investigations and imposed fines of nearly 800 million euro on the companies involved.

The companies fined in 2010 were Air CanadaAir France-KLMBritish AirwaysCargoluxCathay Pacific AirwaysJapan AirlinesLAN ChileMartinairQantasSAS and Singapore Airlines. A 12th cartel member, Lufthansa, and its subsidiary, Swiss International Air Lines, received full immunity from fines.

All but one of the companies (Qantas) subject to the 2010 decision challenged the decision before the EU’s General Court. In December 2015, the General Court annulled the Commission’s decision against the 11 cartel participants, concluding that there had been a procedural error. However, it did not rule on the existence of the cartel.

The Commission’s March 2017 Decision addresses the Court’s conclusions that there was a discrepancy between the reasoning and operative part of the decision and it brings the operative part in line with the reasoning part. The new Decision imposes the same fines identified by the 2010 Decision but, considering that EU rules allow a maximum fine of 10% of the total turnover in the year preceding the adoption of the decision,  Martinair‘s fine has been significantly lowered to match its lower 2016 turnover.

More information are available at the following link.


Davide Scavuzzo