BEGINNING OF THE END FOR NZ AIRLINE CARTEL BLITZ
After Air NewZealandcalled for ‘common sense to prevail’ in the long-running air cargo cartel allegations case pursued vigorously by the NZ Commerce Commission, the two parties have come to an agreement for settling the proceedings. Air NZ has now withdrawn its challenge to a settlement agreement and will pay costs relating to this. The next step will be a penalty hearing. Timing of this is likely to be expedited, as neither side wants the matter to drag on. Given the complexity of the case, an agreement on the penalty might not be a simple matter but both the carrier and regulator have been showing signs of battle fatigue after several years of investigation and litigation. This is the beginning of the end for an anti-cartel blitz which initially involved several carriers and subsequently extended to individual airline executives, although the latter were later dropped from the commission’s battle plan. There has also been completely separate anti-trust action involving freight forwarders. Recent moves have included a late-April High Court order which followed penalty agreements with Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and MASkargo System. This brought in NZ$9.6 million, plus court costs, taking the total fines from the blitz to more than $35 million.