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Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Air NZ says cartel case should be dropped

Air New Zealand planes. Photo / NZPA
Air New Zealand planes. Photo / NZPA

Air New Zealand is calling on the Commerce Commission to end its long-running cargo price-fixing action - on the eve of a key hearing in the case.

The airline issued a statement last night saying the action should end because of a retraction of evidence under oath.

But it said it could not disclose what it was as it "remains confidential under USA court orders".

Air New Zealand today faces a penalty hearing in the High Court at Auckland and the commission says it has a much different view from the airline but is not commenting further because the matter is before the court.

The case started almost five years ago against Air New Zealand and 12 other airlines when the commission alleged they had colluded to increase freight charges and impose a security surcharge after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

While other airlines have paid penalties of more than $35 million in total after admitting their role, Air New Zealand remains the only airline still before the court and has staunchly defended itself.

The airline says it has spent $10 million defending the action while the commission has spent $2.8 million on court and investigation costs to date.

Air New Zealand general counsel John Blair said it had become clearer than ever in the past week that the commission's "quest" should end.

"Air New Zealand remains adamant it has not breached New Zealand competition law."

Commerce Commission chairman Mark Berry said he was limited in what he could say as the dispute was before the court.

"However, we have a very different view of the situation to Air New Zealand, and will be asking the court to hold the airline to its agreement."

- NZ Herald

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