EU justice confirms fines against carriers including Air France

The decision concludes years of appeals by airlines in European courts.

European justice confirmed on Wednesday fines imposed in 2017 by Brussels on airlines, including Air France-KLM, for cartel on freight prices, but slightly reduced the amount for some of them. Among the 11 companies sanctioned, Air France receives the heaviest fine, ie 182 million euros, followed by its Dutch partner KLM (127 million euros).

These amounts were left unchanged by the Court of the European Union which rejected the actions of the two companies. Same thing for their Dutch subsidiary Martinair which must pay 15 million euros. The fines were also confirmed for Cargolux (80 million euros) and Singapore Airlines (75 million). The slate is almost unchanged for the Scandinavian SAS, at around 70 million euros.

On the other hand, the amounts were slightly reduced for British Airways (84 million instead of 104), Cathay Pacific (47 instead of 57), Japan Airlines (29 instead of 36), Air Canada (18 instead of 21) and Latam (2 instead of 8). The airlines in question still have the possibility of appealing to the Court of Justice of the EU, within two months.

An old and disputed decision

The initial decision of the European Commission, which dated back to November 2010, had been annulled in December 2015 by the EU justice due to a procedural flaw, which the European executive had indicated “to have corrected” in 2017. But the carriers had then filed new appeals on which the court, based in Luxembourg, ruled on Wednesday.

The cartel formed by the various companies lasted in total a little more than six years – between December 1999 and February 2006. The companies had started by agreeing to impose fuel surcharges. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, discussions were widened to security surcharges.

Germany’s Lufthansa and its subsidiary Swiss, also implicated, were granted immunity for informing the Commission, the EU’s competition watchdog, of the existence of the cartel and for actively contributing to the investigation. The Air France-KLM group, which had already provisioned these fines in its accounts, indicated on Wednesday that it intended to analyze “this judgment without delay with a view to an appeal to the Court of Justice”.

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