Air NZ backs down on challenge to cargo suit against regulator

Air New Zealand, the only one of 11 airlines not to settle an antitrust suit over cargo with the Commerce Commission, has withdrawn a court challenge to the settlement deal.

Air NZ has agreed to pay as yet unspecified costs to the regulator and the two sides have sought a penalty hearing, according to a joint statement from the airline and the regulator.

The alleged price-fixing has been the subject of antitrust process worldwide, with big settlements from multi-national airlines in Europe and the US. Some of the alleged agreements appear to have been in place since 2001.

In 2006, air freight forwarding services in and out of New Zealand generated $450 million in revenue.

The commission has received penalties from British Airways, Cargolux Airlines, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Korean Air Lines, Qantas Airways, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways International and MASkargo System Berhad, which replaced Malaysian Airlines.

The regulator dropped proceedings against Garuda Indonesia, United Airlines and six Air New Zealand executives in 2011, and discontinued against two Qantas executives in February last year.

Air New Zealand shares fell 0.3 percent to $1.47, about matching the broader market’s decline.

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