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  February 12th, 2016 | Written by

Air China Settles Antitrust Class Action for $50 Million

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  • Class action litigation alleged price-fixing conspiracy by over 30 airlines around the world.
  • Twenty-three air cargo defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy under a U.S. Department of Justice probe.
  • Class action air cargo price-fixing litigation is still pending against two defendants, Air India and Air New Zealand.

A $50 million settlement has been reached between Air China Ltd. and Air China Cargo Co. Ltd. and a plaintiff class in a multi-district class action antitrust litigation pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

To date, plaintiffs have entered into settlements with 26 defendant groups totaling $1.19 billion, of which settlements with 22 defendant groups for $848 million have been granted final approval by the court.

The settlement with Air China is subject to court approval.

“We’re very pleased with the favorable rulings and compensation we’ve achieved to date for the class,” said Robert Kaplan, partner with Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP and co-lead attorney in the air cargo class action litigation. “The settlement with Air China is no exception and the outcome represents a major win for the class plaintiffs.”

The industry-wide litigation arose from allegations about the pricing practices of a number of air cargo carriers on routes to and from the United States from January 2000 through September 2006.

The lawsuit, filed in 2006 on behalf of a class of direct purchasers of air cargo shipping services, alleged a multi-year conspiracy perpetrated by more than thirty airlines around the world. After reaching settlements of more than $1 billion with twenty-seven of these airlines, including Singapore Airlines, China Air, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, EVA Airways and Korean Air, the plaintiffs won the right to proceed as a certified class against the remaining defendants.

Twenty-three defendants have pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracy under a U.S. Department of Justice probe. Over 20 airlines have been identified as conspiracy participants in the European Union, and other airlines have been prosecuted in other areas of the world, including Canada, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

This litigation is still pending against two defendants, Air India Ltd. and Air New Zealand Ltd., and plaintiffs are preparing for a September 2016 trial against them.