Air France-KLM, 10 other airlines hit with 776 mln euro EU fine

Foo Yun Chee

(Adds remark from Air Canada)

BRUSSELS, March 17 (Reuters) - Air France-KLM,

British Airways and nine other airlines were hit with a

776 million euro ($835.5 million) fine by EU antitrust

regulators on Friday for taking part in an air cargo cartel more

than a decade ago.

The European Commission re-imposed the penalties after

Europe's second highest court in 2015 annulled the EU

executive's 2010 decision due to a procedural error.

The fines were unchanged for all the airlines except for the

amount due from Martinair - cut to 15.4 million euros ($16.53

million)from the 29.5 million euro ($31.67 million) amount set

in 2010.

Air France was fined 182.9 million euros ($196.32 million),

the highest, followed by KLM at 127.1 million ($136.43 million),

British Airways at 104.4 million ($112.06 million), Cargolux at

79.9 million ($85.76 million)and Singapore Airlines at

74.8 million ($80.29 million).

Other carriers penalised were Air Canada, Cathay

Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, LAN Chile

and SAS. Lufthansa, along with subsidiary

Swiss International Airlines, escaped a fine as it alerted the

cartel to the EU competition authority.

The Commission said it had fixed the procedural error cited

by the court.

"Working together in a cartel rather than competing to offer

better services to customers does not fly with the Commission,"

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a

statement.

SAS, with a 70 million ($75.14 million) fine, and Air

Canada, with a 21 million ($22.54 million) fine, have said they

would appeal the new decision.

"Air Canada will contest it vigorously," a spokeswoman for

the airline said by email.

The Commission in its 2010 finding said the cartel fixed air

freight services, fuel and security surcharges between December

1999 and February 2006.

The decision led to a series of damages claims against the

airlines from companies such as Germany's Deutsche Bahn,

carmaker BMW and car supplier Bosch.

($1 = 0.9288 euros)

($1 = 0.9316 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, Philip Blenkinsop; additional

reporting by Niklas Pollard in Stockholm and Allison Lampert in

Montreal; Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek, Toby Davis and Chris

Reese)