Airlines appeal European Commission price fixing cartel fine

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The airlines who were fined a total of €776 million ($904 million) by the European Commission (EC) for operating a price fixing cartel are appealing the decision.

In March 2017, the EC re-adopted the cartel decision against 11 carriers after the original decision was annulled by the General Court on procedural grounds.

Singapore Airlines, LATAM Airlines Group and Lan Cargo, Cathay Pacific Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa and others, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Cargolux Airlines International, Air Canada, SAS Cargo Group and others, and Martinair Holland have all filed action in the Official Journal of the European Union to annul the decision made in March.

The airlines say the court should annul the decision and pay costs, while others request that the fine is reduced as an alternative.

The arguments include saying the applicants’ right to defence was breached by refusing access to relevant evidence, lack of competence applying law to airfreight services, errors assessing the evidence and its conclusions proving participation in a continuous infringement, inconsistent decisions and the belief that the Commission was wrong to fine any of the applicants as “they cannot be liable for the alleged infringement”.

Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines had received full immunity from the fines for bringing the cartel to the EC’s attention and providing “valuable information”.

The other airlines were fined between €8.2 million and €182.9 million for participating in the cartel, while Qantas had been fined but not appealed the decision originally made in 2010 for alleged price fixing between 1999 and 2006.