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Archived — Fourth guilty plea in air cargo price-fixing conspiracy

OTTAWA, July 7, 2009 — The Competition Bureau announced today that international air carrier Qantas Airways Limited has pleaded guilty to participating in an air cargo cartel affecting Canada.

Qantas admitted that its Freight Division fixed surcharges on air cargo exported on certain routes from Canada between May 2002 and February 2006. During most or all of this period, Qantas Freight trucked cargo from Canada to the United States for onward shipment to Australia and other destinations.

"Prohibiting conspiracies is at the core of competition enforcement and is the Bureau's top priority," said Melanie L. Aitken, Interim Commissioner of Competition. "Conspiracies to fix prices are a serious criminal offence that harm everyone but the perpetrators who cheat the system."

Qantas is the fourth air cargo carrier to be convicted in the Bureau's conspiracy investigation. For its participation, Qantas has been fined $155,000. The Bureau's investigation into the alleged conduct of other air cargo carriers continues.

On June 26, 2009, Société Air France (Air France), Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. (KLM) and Martinair Holland N.V. (Martinair) pleaded guilty to fixing air cargo surcharges for shipments on certain routes from Canada. The companies were fined a combined total of $10 million.

Under the Competition Act, any agreement between competitors to fix prices that result in an undue lessening of competition in Canada is a criminal offence. Current available penalties for price-fixing include fines of up to $10 million per count, imprisonment to a maximum term of five years, or a combination of both.

The Competition Bureau is an independent agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.

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