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Fri 8 Aug 2008 04:00 AM

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NZ charges carriers over price fixing

New Zealand's competition watchdog, the Commerce Commission, has filed charges against Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Aerolineas Argentinas over their failure to provide information requested as part of the body's investigation into cargo price-fixing.

New Zealand's competition watchdog, the Commerce Commission, has filed charges against Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Aerolineas Argentinas over their failure to provide information requested as part of the body's investigation into cargo price-fixing.

The Commerce Commission stated that it had asked the airlines to respond to allegations that they had colluded and reached agreements on cargo rates, including international fuel surcharges, on flights to and from New Zealand, where the air cargo sector is worth more US$304.6 million.

The agency added that the airlines had been asked to forward responses to the charges by November, but that none of them had complied.

"Any failure to comply with commission statutory notices that form part of a commission investigation is a serious enforcement issue," said Paula Rebstock, the Commission chair. "Cartels are insidious and cause extensive damage to the New Zealand economy."

The airlines could face fines of up to $23,077 each if found guilty, and Rebstock also stated that if the Commission's investigation found there was a broader case to pursue, proceedings would be filed with the High Court.

Similar accusations against various industry players have been levelled in the United States, the European Union and Australia, where investigations are currently ongoing.

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