EU court backs airline freight cartel challenge

An Air France medium haul Airbus A319 Image copyright Getty Images

Europe's second-highest court has backed a challenge by 11 airlines against an €800m (£583m) European Commission freight cartel fine.

The General Court of the European Union said there were "internal inconsistencies" in the Commission's 2010 decision.

Of the firms, Air France was fined the largest amount - €182.9m - while KLM was fined €127.2m.

The two carriers merged to form Air France-KLM in 2004.

Other carriers involved were Air Canada, Martinair, British Airways, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, LAN Chile, Qantas, SAS and Singapore Airlines.

Lufthansa escaped a sanction after providing information to the Commission.

The court said that the European Commission had not been clear enough in demonstrating an unambiguous "single and continuous infringement" by the carriers.

Instead, the Commission had found four infringements which it had attributed directly to the carriers on particular routes, the court said.

"Internal inconsistencies" in the decision could infringe the airline's rights of defence, the court added.

Some of the carriers had said that the decision "did not allow them to determine the nature and scope of the infringement or infringements that they were alleged to have committed".

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