Emirates denies price fixing claims

Emirates Airline has denied allegations of price fixing in the air cargo industry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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Emirates Airline has denied allegations of price fixing in the air cargo industry after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) yesterday initiated court proceedings against the Dubai Government-owned carrier. The ACCC is alleging that between 2002 and 2006, Emirates colluded with other international air cargo carriers to fix the price of certain fuel surcharges, security surcharges and rates on cargo. Several leading carriers including Australia's Qantas Airways and British Airways have already received fines of millions of dollars under the Australian competition watchdog's price-fixing investigation. "The ACCC alleges that the arrangements or understandings were reached in countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and India," the ACCC said in a statement on its website. The other international air cargo carriers were not named. "It is not the first airline accused of this and will not be the last," said Chris Yates, an aviation analyst at Yates Consulting in the UK. Australia's Federal Court in April dismissed attempts by Emirates and Singapore Airlines to prevent the ACCC from demanding documents in relation to the price-fixing investigation. Both airlines had refused to hand over documents for the investigation. Emirates is the ninth airline to be investigated as part of the ACCC's sweeping inquiry into alleged fuel surcharge price-fixing. In December last year, the Federal Court ordered Qantas to pay A$20 million (Dh60.5m) and British Airways A$5m in penalties. Air France and Holland's KLM were both fined A$3m each by the court in February, while Martinair Holland and Luxembourg's Cargolux International Airlines were each ordered to pay A$5m. The ACCC said total penalties to date against the airlines totalled A$41m. Proceedings are continuing against Singapore Airlines and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific. "Emirates denies the allegations and will be defending the proceedings," a spokesman for the airline said yesterday. "It does not intend to make any further comment, given that the matter is before the court." The Emirates hearing has been set down for September 11 in the Federal Court in Sydney. The ACCC, which operates as an independent statutory authority, said further actions were expected in the next few months as it continued to investigate other airlines with the assistance of co-operating parties. fglover@thenational.ae tarnold@thenational.ae