is the latest carrier to settle with the Australian government over price-fixing allegations, with court action expected to begin in earnest next year for the remaining six airlines in the case.
The Australian Federal Court set a penalty of AU$5.5 million ($5.46 million) for Korean. The penalty was lowered because the carrier agreed to cooperate with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) in its investigation.
Korean is the eighth carrier to settle, and the total penalties have reached AU$52 million. However, legal actions are continuing against six other carriers:, , Emirates, , and International. Proceedings against have been put on hold while an appeal is heard.
The next key date in the case against these airlines is a directions hearing set for Feb. 8, an ACCC spokesman tells Aviation Week. This hearing is intended to “sort out procedural issues relating to the preparation for the hearing,” which has been tentatively scheduled in September 2012. The Australian price-fixing investigation is similar to several being conducted by other countries. The ACCC began proceedings against Korean on March 5, 2010. The ACCC alleged that Korean engaged in price-fixing with other international carriers on fuel and security surcharges between May 2003 and February 2006, and customs fees between May 2004 and October 2005.
According to the ACCC, this conduct applied to international freight shipped from Indonesia to other destinations, including Australia. The customs fees activity also applied to cargo carried from Australia to Indonesia.