Korean Air Lines, Singapore Airlines and two other major airlines have received final approval in New York federal court of settlements worth more than $360 million. It has been alleged in litigation that they conspired with other carriers to fix the price of air cargo services. U.S. District Judge John Gleeson found the settlements were fair to the thousands of companies that purchased air cargo services directly from the airlines and claimed the carriers participated in the plot to hike rates.
The group of settlements includes three of the largest settlements to date, led by the $115 million accord with Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd. Both Singapore Airlines Ltd. and China Airlines Ltd. agreed to settlements worth more than $90 million. The fourth airline, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., will pay $60 million. The agreements amount to the fourth round of settlements in the multidistrict litigation, which started in 2006 with more than 90 consumer lawsuits against more than two dozen airlines.
Under the settlement, Korean Air and the others will cooperate with the Plaintiffs as they pursue claims against the four Defendants that remain in the litigation. Those four – Air China Ltd., Air India Ltd., Air New Zealand Ltd. and Polar Air Cargo Inc. – are scheduled to go to trial in March.
Consumers began bringing lawsuits after the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission started investigating the air freight industry. Authorities said the conspirators used meetings, conversations and other communications to determine the rates the airlines should charge for various routes. The airlines and former executives then imposed the agreed-upon rates and participated in subsequent meetings in the U.S. and other countries to enforce the price-fixing plots, the government alleged. Settlements have been reached since the consolidation of the complaints in New York federal court, yielding the Plaintiffs more than $1 billion.