Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Air Freight Forwarders Allegations of Cartel Conspiracy Goes to Antitrust Trial

Four Cargo Airlines are Plaintiffs in Class Action Suit
Shipping News Feature

US – Four international cargo airlines embroiled in the multidistrict class action against air freight carriers (In Air Cargo Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation, 06-MD-1775 (JG) VVP) are set to go to trial on January 25, 2016, after failing in their attempt to end the seemingly endless lawsuit that had been filed by six freight forwarders in 2006. The case alleges a multi-year conspiracy perpetrated by more than thirty airlines around the world and, after reaching settlements of more than $1 billion with twenty-seven of the airlines, the plaintiffs recently won the right to proceed as a certified class against the remaining defendants.

On August 31, Judge John Gleeson heard arguments from the few defendants that remain in the long-running case – Air China and Air China Cargo, Air India, Air New Zealand, and Polar Air Cargo (along with its parent, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings), each of which contended that the Court should end the case now, rather than allow a trial to proceed. The court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and set the January trail date. Hausfeld Attorney Brent Landau, for the plaintiffs, said:

“The Court’s ruling is a major milestone for the victims of this massive price-fixing conspiracy, and for private enforcement of the antitrust laws. We look forward to bringing this case before a jury and seeking further compensation for the class.”

It had been alleged that between, at the very least, 2000 and 2006, a group of air cargo carriers colluded to levy inflated surcharges, such as unwarranted fuel surcharges, to eliminate or prevent discounting of air cargo shipping services, to agree on yields, and to allocate customers or routes, thereby violating antitrust laws in various countries around the world, including Korea, Australia, and Canada, to name but a few. To date, settlements with 27 of the airlines in the US has reached around $1.04 billion the biggest settlement being $115 million with Korean Air.

In what is proving to be a very lengthy series of articles readers can see the ever longer catalogue of crimes of this nature by simply typing a suitable keyword, such as cartel, into the News Search box at the head of the page.