New Zealand fines Japan Airlines over cargo cartel

A New Zealand court on Friday fined Japan Airlines NZ$2.28 million ($1.8 million) after it admitted price fixing on cargo shipments in and out of the country.

The country's competition watchdog, Commerce Commission New Zealand, said the High Court imposed the fine as part of a long-running case relating to fuel surcharge manipulation.

The commission said Japan Airlines had agreed to admit liability and pay the penalty as part of a pre-trial settlement between the regulator and the carrier, and the court endorsed the deal on Friday.

"The commission is pleased to have settled with another airline," its lawyer Mary-Anne Borrowdale said in a statement.

Four firms -- Japan Airlines, British Airways, Qantas and Luxembourg-based Cargolux International -- have so far settled with the commission and paid fines totalling NZ$16.4 million.

The commission's action alleges airlines colluded on fuel and security surcharges on international cargo flights between 2000 and 2006.

It said a number of airlines -- including Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Korean Air, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways -- were contesting the charges.

The case against them is due to go to court in March next year.

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