The Swiss-based Competition Commission (Comco) has brought fines totalling 11m Swiss francs ($12.1m) against 11 airlines, following an investigation into horizontal price fixing agreements on freight transport services between 2000 and 2005.
Comco said the investigation revealed that the airlines had agreed on freight rates, fuel surcharges, war risk charges, customs clearance surcharges for the US and the commissioning of surcharges.
The fines were given to Air France-KLM, AMR (American Airlines), Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, British Airways (BA), Cargolux Airlines International, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Korean Air Lines, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), Singapore Airlines and United Continental Holdings.
Deutsche Lufthansa, which was also part of the cartel, gained immunity from the sanctions because it triggered legal proceedings by admitting to price fixing. Swiss International Air Lines also benefitted from immunity because it is a subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa.
“The investigation has been characterised by a high complexity of proceedings because of the large number of air transport agreements with third party states,” said Comco in a statement. “Of the existing air transport agreements, the one with the European Union is of particular importance.”
Switzerland signed the agreement as part of a wider bilateral agreement, which involved a partial integration in the field of air transport. Comco said it had to apply European competition rules because they were an integral part of the agreement, and because there were infringements to the Swiss Federal Act on Cartels and other Restraints of Competition (Cartel Act).