DB seeks $2.5B damages over air cargo cartel

Treble damages could increase the total risks for sued airlines up to more than US$3.3 billion

air cargo cartel Air France Cargolux Deutsche Bahn KLM Martinair Qantas Schenker

Schenker AG, the logistics subsidiary of German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB), will seek damages estimated at US$2.5 billion — approximately US$370 million in the US and US$2.19 billion in Germany including interest — from air cargo carriers found guilty by the US Department of Justice, the European Commission and other international authorities for operating a global price-fixing cartel. The US portion could increase to an estimated US$1.1 billion if the court awards treble damages in the case.

Schenker AG is the latest international freight forwarder to pursue civil litigation in an effort to recover significant damages from air cargo carriers that conspired to fix fuel and security surcharges from 1999 until 2006. In August, Schenker filed a complaint against Air France, KLM, Martinair, Cargolux, Qantas, SAS and All Nippon Airways in the Eastern District of New York. The complaint alleges that, in coordinating surcharge pricing for shipments to, from and within the US, the airlines violated US antitrust laws. All defendants named in the Schenker AG complaint pleaded guilty in Department of Justice proceedings.

The German lawsuit, filed in December 2013 in Cologne, alleges defendants Deutsche Lufthansa, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Swiss Airlines, Cargolux, SAS, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines and Qantas were involved in the same conspiracy affecting airfreight shipments worldwide.