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Air New Zealand receives EU inquiry in air freight cartel probe

Air New Zealand receives EU inquiry in air freight cartel probe

Air New Zealand Ltd. said Thursday it is one of 25 airlines that have received a Statement of Objection from the European Union over a probe into an alleged cargo cartel.
The EU has asked the airline to respond by March 31, 2008, to questions about its role in alleged agreements among airlines relating to air cargo rates and surcharges, the airline said in a statement.
"Air New Zealand will not be making any further comment until the statement has been considered by the company's lawyers," it said.
The latest European Union inquiry is focused on claims of criminal behavior by the freight arms of airlines.
European Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd has called the notes "official charge sheets."
Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air Canada and Qantas have already confirmed they were sent "please explain" notes on Dec. 20.
British Airways, Japan Airlines, Air France-KLM, SAS Group and Cargolux Airlines International, are also reported to be under scrutiny.
Each carrier risks fines of up to 10 per cent of its annual cargo revenue if found guilty of cartel price rigging.
Australia's national airline, Qantas was fined 70 million Australian dollars (US$61 million; euro42 million) over similar issues in the United States last month.
Air New Zealand is 76 percent owned by the New Zealand government after it was bailed out of near-bankruptcy by a billion-dollar cash injection in 1991.