Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are the latest casualties in cargo price-fixing scandal, settling their cases and agreeing to pay fines levied by the Federal Court of Australia of $11.25 million and $11.75 million, respectively.
These stand as two of the largest fines ever ordered in Australia. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the group leading the charge against alleged price-fixing carriers in Australia, is continuing its case against Air New Zealand
and Garuda Indonesia. The price-fixing investigation in Australia has now netted in $91 million in penalties to carriers guilty of fixing air cargo rates.
“The conduct, which we consider to constitute a serious breach of the
law, included an attempt by Singapore Airlines Cargo to fix air
freight rates for meat exports including the potential meat exports
going to U.S. and Australian troops stationed in the Middle East," Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, said in a statement. “The sheer scale of these penalties will act as a strong deterrent to
any business considering engaging in cartel conduct, regardless of size
or country of origin. The ACCC is fiercely committed to stopping cartel
conduct, which is illegal, harms competition and often increases prices
In 2008 and 2009, the ACCC began its investigation into the two carriers, which the organization said colluded to set fees on fuel, security and other surcharges in violation of the Trade Practices Act. According to a press release, Signapore's most egregious action was the meat incident with the troops, which occurred in 2003. Cathay admitted to talking with Qantas about setting price points between Sydney and Hong Kong in 2004.
While charges have seemingly stopped coming from the originators of the global price-fixing busts, the U.S. Justice Department — as of now, the organization has collected billions of dollars from guilty carriers and has sent numerous top-level executives to jail — the seemingly never-ending price-fixing saga has since spread itself across the entire world. - Jon Ross