Thai Airways fined $7.5m for price-fixing

Thai Airways has admitted to engaging in price-fixing in a global air freight cartel and has been fined $7.5 million in the Federal Court.

The airline, which was one of several pursued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), settled its case and admitted to reaching understandings with other airlines about certain charges for fuel, security and customs between 2001 and 2005.

Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Air Cargo and Korean Air Lines have previously been fined for their parts in the price-fixing agreement.

In a judgment handed down last Friday, Justice Anna Katzmann found Thai Airways had engaged in serious contraventions.

"This was deliberate, systematic conduct involving senior staff at the Thai station in Indonesia," the judge said.

"For the understandings to be effective, they required the participation of all players in the market, including Thai."

The airline admitted to reaching understandings on a fuel surcharge from October 2001 to October 2005, a security surcharge during the same period, and a customs fee from May 2004 to October 2005 on air freight from Indonesia to several countries, including Australia.

It agreed to pay a $7 million fine, $500,000 towards the ACCC's costs and to refrain from engaging in similar conduct for five years.

The ACCC agreed to allow Thai Airways to pay its fine in instalments, due to the airline's ongoing financial problems.

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