The Competition Bureau – an independent agency of the Canadian Government – announced yesterday that Quantas had joined the ranks of carriers who have admitted and pleaded guilty to a price-fixing conspiracy in air cargo, bringing the number of carriers held responsible to four.

On 26 June 2009 Société Air France (Air France), Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. (KLM) and Martinair Holland N.V. (Martinair) admitted forming an air cargo cartel which, inter alia, conspired in respect of fuel surcharges to be charged on certain Canadian routes, ultimately imposing over $31.5 million in charges from 2002-2006.

The fines imposed on the companies were: Air France — $4 million; KLM — $5 million; Martinair — $1 million; Qanatas – $155,000. According to Interim Commissioner of Competition Melanie Aitken, these carriers have co-operated with the investigation and benefited from the leniency program: “Had these companies not cooperated, the Bureau would have recommended harsher penalties against these companies, including significantly higher fines.”

The investigation into the air cargo cartel began following a “confidential immunity application”, a program designed to encourage whistleblower companies by providing lighter sentencing or immunity to the first company to come to the Tribunal and disclose anti-competitive activities. The investigation into other carriers continues.