German rail giant Deutsche Bahn, parent of forwarder and logistics services provider DB Schenker, filed lawsuits in the US and Germany against a total of fifteen airlines claiming US$2.5 billion in damages related to the fixing of surcharge prices in the period 1999 – 2006.
The US suit, claiming about US$370 million, names seven carriers: Air France, All Nippon Airways, Cargolux, KLM, Martinair, Qantas, and SAS. The US Department of Justice charged all seven with violating antitrust laws by fixing the prices of fuel and security surcharges, and all seven pleaded guilty. Deutsche Bahn said that the court could choose to award triple damages, in which case the total could rise to $1.1 billion.
The German suit, claiming about US$2.2 billion, names eleven carriers: Air Canada, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cargolux, Japan Airlines, LAN, Lufthansa, Qantas, SAS, Singapore Airlines, and Swiss Airlines. Deutsche Bahn charges that the carriers were involved in a conspiracy to fix surcharge prices.
Schenker has already taken part in class action lawsuits in this matter, and has settled with some carriers, however it has not reached agreements with the carriers named in the suits launched today. Christopher Rother, Deutsche Bahn’s head of group regulatory, competition and antitrust, said: “As result of the class actions, many airlines settled with their customers. At DB Schenker we had two options – we could either accept that the award was fair and reasonable and get our share of the quota of the settlement, which we did in some cases; or in other cases we felt that the damages were not enough and we opted out of those cases. These cases we are announcing today are those where we were unable to settle because their offers were inadequate.”
We will continue to follow developments in this case over the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, here is the text of the statement Deutsche Bahn released this morning:
DB seeks estimated damages of $2.5 billion in lawsuits against airlines in air cargo cartel
Treble Damages could increase the total risks for sued Airlines up to more than $ 3.3 billion
(Berlin, Germany, December 1, 2014) Deutsche Bahn (DB) AG, the German railway company, today announced that its logistics subsidiary, Schenker AG, will seek damages estimated at $2.5 billion — approximately $370 million in the U.S. and $2.19 billion in Germany including interest — from air cargo carriers found guilty by the U.S. Department of Justice, the European Commission and other international authorities for operating a global price-fixing cartel. The U.S. portion could increase to an estimated $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 U.S., the airlines violated U.S. 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.
A number of air cargo carriers in the United States entered into settlement agreements both with class action plaintiffs and individual claimants in order to avoid protracted civil lawsuits. Schenker AG agreed to settlements with some carriers but opted out of the settlement agreements by the named defendants in connection with the class action lawsuit.
Information about the lawsuits can be found at www.aircargocartelclaims.com. DB Group offers global mobility and logistics services and operates in more than 130 countries world-wide. Every day more than 300,000 employees are committed to ensuring that customers are provided with mobility and logistics services and that the related rail, road, ocean and air traffic networks are operated and controlled efficiently.
Issued by Deutsche Bahn AG
Potsdamer Platz 2, 10785 Berlin, Germany
Responsible for content:
Oliver Schumacher, Head of Corporate Communications