Air Cargo class action

IMPORTANT - Settlement approved

On 6 June 2014 the Federal Court of Australia approved an agreement between the Applicants and the Respondents, other than the Air New Zealand parties, for the settlement of the class action.

The details of the process by which the settlement amount will be distributed is outlined in the Settlement Distribution Scheme which can be viewed here.

The settlement is for Registered Group Members, as defined below. Maurice Blackburn will write to Registered Group Members to provide information about the process for making claims. Registered Group Members must submit their claims by 1 August 2014.

Group Members are all those persons resident in Australia as at 11 January 2007 who, during the period 1 January 2000 to 11 January 2007, paid identified amounts (ie amounts identified by way of invoices, or equivalent demands for payment, or terms of trade, which identified international airfreight as a separate item for which payment was due) totalling more than AUD$20,000 over the period for the carriage of goods to or from Australia including in each instance a component by air and who are not related parties of the Respondents or any of them within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001.

'Registered Group Members' are those who meet the definition of Group Members and who notified their intention to participate in any settlement reached in these proceedings by 15 November 2013 in accordance with the Court's orders dated 27 September 2013.

If you have any questions regarding the Air Cargo Class Action, you should contact the Applicants' solicitors (Maurice Blackburn). Contact details for Maurice Blackburn regarding this matter are as follows:

Contact: Tahli Preston-Dixon
Telephone: (03) 9605 2892

Copies of the Sixth Amended Application and Eighth Amended Statement of Claim which set out the claims made in the Air Cargo Class Action can also be viewed here.

The action

Maurice Blackburn is conducting a price fixing class action against major international airlines including Qantas, Lufthansa Cargo, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand and British Airways in relation to the provision of international air freight services since 1 January 2000. The class action seeks damages and other relief on behalf of purchasers of air freight services for losses suffered as a result of the alleged cartel conduct by the airlines.

This class action alleges contraventions of the price fixing provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) and relates to fuel and security surcharges imposed by the airlines on international air freight services.

Regulatory Proceedings and overseas Class Actions

Proceedings by competition regulators including the ACCC against various airlines and executives in respect of the alleged global air cargo cartel continue to yield significant results. The total fines by the ACCC to date against airlines for price fixing of international air freight amount to nearly $100 million, and are the highest to be ordered in respect of a single ACCC investigation. Air New Zealand and Garuda Indonesia have defended proceedings brought by the ACCC. The trial of those proceedings concluded on 15 May 2013 and judgement is pending.

A total of 22 airlines and 21 executives have been charged in the US Department of Justice's ongoing investigation into price fixing in the air transportation industry. To date, more than US$1.8 billion in criminal fines have been imposed and six executives have been sentenced to serve prison time.

On 9 November 2010, the European Commission fined 11 air cargo carriers a total of €799,445,000 for operating a worldwide cartel which affected cargo services within the European Economic Area.

On 2 August 2012, the US Court approved further settlements reached in the US air cargo class action. These settlements bring the total payments so far to US$485 million. Settlements were also reached and approved by courts in the Canadian air cargo class action proceedings.

Click on the additional information item on the left for more detail about the continuing investigations by the ACCC and other competition regulators around the world and other class actions in respect of the alleged air cargo cartel.