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SYDNEY: Dubai airline Emirates yesterday agreed to pay a fine of Aus$10m ($10.3m) to settle a case brought by Australian regulators who accused it of fixing surcharges for fuel and other prices.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission started proceedings against the carrier in 2009, alleging it was part of a cartel that operated in the air freight market. Emirates is the 10th airline to settle, with cases against Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand and Thai Airways due to be heard later this month.
“This settlement with Emirates brings the total penalties ordered in Australia against international airlines involved in the cartel to Aus$68m,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
“This result sends a strong message that the ACCC and the Australian courts will not tolerate any business — regardless of size or country of origin — engaging in cartel conduct that harms competition in Australia. “Cartel conduct is illegal and often results in increased prices for consumers.”
Emirates conceded that it reached illegal understandings with other airlines relating to surcharges and a customs fee on air freight from Indonesia to Australia and elsewhere between October 2001 and May 2006. This resulted in a Aus$7m penalty.
The airline was also fined Aus$3 million for attempting to fix rates with DAS Air Cargo for the supply of air freight from Australia.
In addition, the Federal Court in Sydney ordered the Middle Eastern carrier pay Aus$500,000 towards the ACCC’s costs. Qantas incurred a Aus$20m fine in 2008 for fixing fuel surcharges on customers.