Friday, March 03, 2006

Air cargo price-fixing in the EU?

The International Herald Tribune reports on an air cargo price-fixing probe by European Union (EU) investigators who raided the offices of several EU-based carriers, including British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa, and Air France-KLM Group, among others.
British Airways and Lufthansa said they were assisting with the inquiry. U.S. and European officials requested information on "cartel activity" involving British Airways and a number of other airlines and cargo operators, British Airways said in a statement to the Regulatory News Service.

Lufthansa said that its cargo unit was cooperating with the investigation and that it would give no further information on the matter.

A spokeswoman for Air France, Brigitte Barrand, said, "Air France confirms that it, like other freight transporters in Europe, is a subject of the European Commission's investigation and it will bring to the inquiries all the cooperation that's sought."

Cargolux Airlines International, a Luxembourg-based freight carrier, is also being investigated by the commission, said a spokesman for the company, Patrick Jeanne.
A statement from the European Commission said there was reason to believe that the companies concerned might have violated EU cartel rules.
Under EU law, the commission can fine companies accused of operating a cartel as much as 10 percent of their annual sales. It typically opts for about 2 percent to 3 percent of sales.
The European Commission gave no expected date for the completion of its investigation.