An end to the long-running air-cargo case between the Commerce Commission and Air New Zealand appears some way off, as the parties appeared in the High Court today to discuss the next step in the litigation.
Although the national carrier and the regulator had reached a settlement agreement in the case and a penalty hearing was scheduled, Air New Zealand made a 11th hour bid to cancel the deal.
The penalty hearing did not go ahead and Air New Zealand has now filed a separate proceeding seeking declarations that it has validly cancelled the settlement agreement.
In turn, the Commission has since applied for a judgement on Air New Zealand's admissions and parties for both sides met today to discuss how both matters should be handled.
After hearing arguments, Justice Christopher Allan ordered that Air New Zealand's and the Commission's proceedings should be dealt with together and be called to court at the same time.
He made orders as to when further documents needed to be filed by and directed the case be called for mention in the commercial list next month.
Ten other airlines have admitted their role in the price-fixing case and have paid penalties of $35 million.
Air New Zealand was one of 13 airlines which the commission filed proceedings against in December 2008.
The commission alleged that the airlines colluded to impose fuel and security surcharges for air cargo shipments to and from New Zealand.
Last month, the High Court ordered three more airlines pay a combined total of $9.6 million in penalties for their role in the air cargo cartel case, the commission said in a statement issued at the time.
According to the commission, it received penalty judgments against Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd for $4.3 million, Thai Airways International Plc for $2.7 million, and MASkargo System Berhad Ltd for $2.6 million for price fixing in breach of the Commerce Act.
The commission said it had previously received penalties from seven other airlines: British Airways Plc, Cargolux Airlines International SA, Emirates, Japan Airlines International Co Ltd, Korean Air Lines Co Ltd, Qantas Airways Ltd, and Singapore Airlines Cargo.