According to reports, among those charges are British Airways, Japan Airlines, Air France-KLM, the SAS Group, Cargolux, ANA, Air New Zealand, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, LAN and Singapore Airlines. In a prepared statement, the Commission states that it, “can confirm that a Statement of Objections has been sent to a number of companies, concerning their alleged participation in a cartel in the provision of airfreight services, in violation of EU rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area).”
A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defense against the objections raised by the Commission. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case.
The Commission may then take a decision on whether conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the EC Treaty’s antitrust rules. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.
If an airline agrees to cooperate with the investigation it may win conditional immunity from fines. Lufthansa has indicated that it has won such conditional immunity.
Previously in a cooperative effort between the European Commission and US Department of Justice, several airlines, including Qantas and Korean Air, were slapped with significant fines.