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Air cargo probe goes global

A probe into price-fixing is spreading globally in the air cargo industry, with authorities investigating whether airlines have illegally cooperated to limit competition. The probe has spread to Asia on Wednesday after the European Commission and the U.S. Justice Department raided a number of air cargo suppliers.

British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, SAS and Cargolux, a Luxembourg-based carrier, have said they are cooperating with European investigators.

The European Commission said in a statement, “The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated (a European Union) treaty, which prohibits practices such as price fixing.”

Cathay Pacific is also under investigation according to Reuters news agency.

Japan Airlines Corp., told Reuters that European authorities had searched its Frankfurt offices, while Korean Air Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc., have said they were raided by the local antitrust watchdog.


In a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange, BA said it had received a request for information from both the European Commission and the US Department of Justice.

Neelie Kroes, Europe’s competition commissioner is putting cartel-busting at the top of her priority list.

A year ago, Kroes announced that a cartel division would be setup within the European Commission’s competition department.

She has described cartels as ‘‘the most damaging type of anti-competitive practice.’’

Not only has Kroes promised zero tolerance for colluding companies but she has offered leniency for those firms who come forth with information about operating cartels.