Australia accuses Emirates of cargo price-fixing

SYDNEY: Australia Tuesday launched legal action against airline Emirates for alleged cargo industry price-fixing, extending a campaign which has netted several carriers and tens of millions of dollars in fines.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the Dubai carrier had colluded with other airlines to fix cargo and other rates between 2002 and 2006, adding that it was seeking financial penalties.

"Emirates entered into arrangements or understandings with other international air cargo carriers that had the purpose and effect of fixing the price of certain fuel surcharges, security surcharges and rates," it said in a statement.

"The ACCC alleges that the arrangements or understandings were reached in countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and India."

Since December the ACCC has successfully accused several airlines of fuel surcharge price-fixing, winning fines of 20 million dollars (16.4 million US) and five million dollars from Qantas and British Airways respectively.

Air France, KLM -- which have now merged -- Martinair and Cargolux were ordered to pay a total of 21 million dollars in separate proceedings, while cases are still being heard against Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

Neighbouring New Zealand has accused 13 airlines of forming an air cargo cartel and similar action has also been taken in the United States.