The Indian Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) yesterday set aside fines handed out to Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for an alleged air cargo cartel.
This paves the way for the three carriers to have fines proposed in November by CCI last year as reported in Air Cargo Week, scrapped.
On Tuesday 17 November, the CCI fined Jet Airways, IndiGo Airlines and SpiceJet a total of $39 million for engaging in “concerted action in fixing and revising FSC for transporting cargo”.
Fines of Indian Rupees (Rs) 151.69 crores ($23 million), Rs. 63.74 crores and Rs. 42.48 crores were dished out to Jet Airways, IndiGo and SpiceJet, respectively.
But the CAT has told the CCI it must reconsider the decision, ruling the CCI had not given the carriers an opportunity to show they had not formed “any cartel for jacking-up fuel surcharges”.
CAT says the director general report found there was no evidence of a cartel and the CCI had failed to indicate it disagreed with the report the carriers had not issued a response.
It also added they would have done if they had known the CCI disagreed with the joint director general’s report.
In November all three carriers said they would fight the fines, and a Jet Airways spokesperson told Air Cargo Week (ACW): “Jet Airways believes that it is not in contravention of the provisions of the Competition Act and shall pursue all available legal steps to defend its position.”
Similarly, a statement from IndiGo to ACW read: “The Company is studying the CCI Order and will take legal steps to challenge the order in the appropriate forum. The Company has been legally advised that it is not in contravention of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002.”