Qantas is among 11 air cargo carriers fined a total of 800 million euros ($1.1 billion) by the European Commission for running a cartel.
"It is deplorable that so many major airlines coordinated their pricing to the detriment of European businesses and European consumers," said European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Tuesday.
The Air France-KLM group was hit with the biggest fine, 310 million euros ($A427.26 million), of which 183 million euros ($A252.22 million) was for Air France and 127 million euros ($A175.04 million) for KLM.
To my ‘Aussie price gouging on international flights’
British Airways was fined 104 million euros ($A143.34 million).
The other companies fined were Qantas, Air Canada, Martinair, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, LAN Chile, SAS and Singapore Airlines.
Lufthansa and its subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines escaped a fine under the commission's leniency program for being the first to provide information about the cartel.
The 11 cargo carriers co-ordinated their action on surcharges for fuel and security without discounts over a six-year period, between December 1999 and February 2006, the European Union's competition watchdog said.
Qantas and LAN Chile got the smallest fines, euros 8.9 million ($A12.27 million) and euros 8.2 million ($A11.3 million), respectively.
Scandinavia's SAS group was fined 70.2 million euros and Luxembourg's Cargolux will have to pay 79.9 million euros.
In Asia, Singapore Airlines was fined 74.8 million euros, Cathay was hit with 57.1 million euros and Japan Airlines will pay 35.7 million euros.
Air Canada must pay 21 million euros.
Five airlines applied for a reduction in the fine, claiming they were unable to pay it, but the commission said none of them met the conditions.
The commission said it dropped charges against another 11 carriers and one consultancy firm which it did not name.
The fines, totalling 799.4 million euros ($A1.09 billion), were slapped on airlines for co-ordinating a cartel that covered flights from, to and within the European Economic Area.
The cartel initially began with contacts between airlines to ensure that worldwide air freight carriers imposed a "flat rate surcharge per kilo for all shipments," the commission said.
The co-operation expanded with the introduction of a security surcharge. The companies refused to pay a commission on such surcharges to their clients, the regulator said.
"By refusing to pay a commission, the airlines ensured that surcharges did not become subject to competition through the granting of discounts to customers," the commission said.
money.ninemsn.com.au 10 Nov 2010