Air Cargo cartel class action set down for six month Trial

19 September 2013
Twelve international airlines will stand Trial in the Federal Court in October next year over their alleged collusion on airfreight surcharges.

Federal Court orders made yesterday setting down a timetable for the cartel action are a significant milestone in the case that began in February 2007.  The major international airlines in the case including Qantas, Lufthansa Cargo, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand and British Airways face detailed and widespread allegations of cartel conduct. 

Justice Middleton has also ordered the parties to attend mediation on 25-26 November 2013.

The class action is seeking damages and other relief on behalf of purchasers of international airfreight services for losses suffered as a result of alleged cartel conduct by the airlines during the period 1 January 2000 to 11 January 2007.

The group members included in the class action are purchases of freight who paid more than AUD $20,000 for the carriage of goods to or from Australia by air during the period.

This class action alleges contraventions of the price fixing provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and relates to fuel and security surcharges imposed by the airlines.

The mediation and trial dates come on the back of significant international regulatory proceedings being taken in respect of the alleged global air cargo cartel and a case by the ACCC.

Brooke Dellavedova, Principal at Maurice Blackburn, says the Trial will see the beginning of possibly the largest cartel action ever pursued in Australian legal history.

"This has been a long haul, but we are determined to see the group members, mostly shippers of freight from small businesses to large multi-nationals, get compensation for the losses they allege they suffered at the hands of this notorious cartel," Ms Dellavedova said.

"Group members don't understand how carriers such as QANTAS can make broad admissions to competition regulators, yet continue to fight these compensation claims.

Maurice Blackburn is conducting the case on a 'no win no charge' basis with funding from IMF (Australia) Ltd.

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