Air France KLM loses fight against EU cartel fine

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BRUSSELS, March 30 (Reuters) – Air France-KLM  and its Dutch subsidiary KLM on Wednesday lost their challenge against million-euro fines re-imposed by EU antitrust regulators five years ago for taking part in an air cargo cartel two decades ago.

Air France and 10 of its peers had in 2015 won their court fight against fines levied by the European Commission in 2010 for fixing air freight services, fuel and security surcharges between December 1999 and February 2006.

The EU competition enforcer subsequently fixed procedural errors pointed out by the Luxembourg-based General Court and in 2017 re-issued the same penalties except for Martinair which had its fine reduced.

The airlines then took their case back to the General Court, Europe’s second-highest.

The Luxembourg-based court rejected Air France KLM and KLM’s appeals and those brought by Martinair Holland, Cargolux, Lufthansa LHAG.DE and Singapore Airlines SIAL.SI.

The Commission had fined Air France 182.9 million euros ($204 million), the highest, followed by KLM at 127.1 million. The total fine for the cartel made up of 12 airlines came to 776 million euros.

The court reduced the fines for Air Canada AC.TO, Japan Airlines 9201.T, British Airways ICAG.L, Cathay Pacific Airways 0293.HK, Latam Airlines Group and its subsidiary Lan Cargo.

SAS’s SAS.ST fine remained about the same after judges reduced the penalties for part of its infringements but increased them for others.

Lufthansa  and subsidiary Swiss International Airlines escaped a fine as it alerted the EU competition authority to the cartel.

The cases are T-323/17 Martinair Holland, T-324/17 SAS Cargo Group and others, T-325/17 KLM, T-336/17 Air Canada, T-334/17 Cargolux Airlines, T-337/17 Air France–KLM, T-338/17 Air France, T-340/17 Japan Airlines, Case T-341/17 British Airways, T-342/17 Deutsche Lufthansa and others, T-343/17 Cathay Pacific Airways, T-344/17 Latam Airlines Group & Lan Cargo and T-350/17 Singapore Airlines & Singapore Airlines Cargo.

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