18 May 2010

Air NZ faces price-fixing case in Australia

5:44 pm on 18 May 2010

Air New Zealand is facing legal action in Australia, where it is accused by the consumer watchdog of colluding with other airlines to fix prices in the air cargo industry.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says Air New Zealand and 15 other airlines, including Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, acted in concert to impose fuel and security surcharges between 2002 and 2006.

Air New Zealand's first court date is in early June. It denies the accusations.

The commission is seeking declarations, injunctive relief, pecuniary penalties and costs.

Australia's Federal Court previously ordered Qantas to pay $A20 million and British Airways $A5 million in penalties in late 2008. It also imposed penalties on Air France and KLM, among others, early last year.

Air New Zealand is already facing similar action by the Commerce Commission, which claims cartel behaviour could have cost customers up to $600 million between 1998 and 2006.