The latest fines in the global air cargo price-fixing scandal suggest investigations are far from winding down.
Cargolux Airlines this month became the first all-cargo carrier snared in the probe as it agreed to pay $3.3 million settle charges of rate collusion in Australia.
The settlement between Cargolux and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is subject to federal court approval.
Cargolux on Feb. 10 agreed to pay approximately $3.3 million in penalties for breaching the price fixing provisions of the Australian Trade Practices Act.
"Cargolux has cooperated intensively with the ACCC and the other authorities throughout the investigation and the legal proceedings and will continue to do so," said Marc Hoffmann, chairman of the board of Cargolux.
The settlement with the ACCC relates to allegations of fuel surcharge price fixing in league with other major carriers for international air cargo shipments.
Luxembourg-based Cargolux is Europe''s largest all-cargo airline.
The fine follows more than $1 billion in fines in the United States of prominent airlines, including British Airways, Lufthansa and Qantas, and the conviction of three former airline cargo executives of conspiracy charges.
The most prominent of them, former British Airways World Cargo commercial general manager, was sentenced to eight months in jail and fined $20,000.
Last month, airlines in South America and Israel joined those ranks. The U.S. Justice Department announced fines against LAN Cargo, Brazilian carrier ABSA and El Al Israel Airlines. LAN and ABSA, which is partly owned by LAN Cargo, agreed to pay $109 million in penalties while El Al will pay a $15.7 million fine.
The Justice Department said the price-fixing started in 2003, as the airline industry sought to impose higher fuel surcharges, and drew regulatory scrutiny after a failed attempt to impose changes in dimensional weight standards for shipments. It continued, investigators said, until a series of rates in early 2006 of airline and freight forwarding offices in many cities around the world.
"American consumers were forced to pay higher prices on the goods they buy every day as a result of the inflated and collusive shipping rates charged by these companies," said Scott Hammond, acting assistant U.S. attorney general in charge of the antitrust division.