A London court handed British Airways a key victory Thursday in a civil suit against the airline over cargo price fixing, ruling the case cannot go forward as the UK equivalent of a class action lawsuit on behalf of some 200 freight customers.
Two flower shippers, Emerald Supplies and Southern Glass House Produce, wanted to include a broad array of fellow shippers in the case, arguing they all suffered financial losses from the airline's involvement in a global cartel between 2000 and 2006.
But a British appeals court said the lawsuit cannot represent a group of direct or indirect customers because "there is no way to know if they had the same interest in the case," according to reports.
The flower shippers originally sued BA in 2008. Class-action cases are called representative cases in the UK.
The ruling means shippers who claim damages will have to sue individually for compensation.
The airline has faced hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties in the United States and in Europe, and a handful of its executives have faced criminal charges as part of investigations into what authorities have said was a global conspiracy among many of the world's largest airlines to fix cargo rates and surcharges.
The airline pleaded guilty in 2007 to price fixing as part of a global cartel between 2000 and 2006, and was fined $300 million by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Last week, the European Commission, after performing their own four-year investigation, fined BA, along with 10 other airlines, for its role in the cartel and imposed a $145.6 million fine.
Air France-KLM, Europe's biggest cargo airline, was hit with the largest fine of $476 million while Singapore Airlines was fined $104.7 million. The other airlines facing EU fines include Cargolux $112 million, SAS Scandinavian Airline System $98.3 million, Cathay Pacific $80 million, Japan Air Lines $50 million, Martinair $41.3 million and Air Canada $29.4 million.
Australian airline Qantas and LAN Chile were both fined around $12 million.
Lufthansa was found guilty of price fixing but escaped fines because it notified the Commission of the cartel and co-operated in its investigations.
-- Contact Dana Brundage at email@example.com .