UPDATE 1-Emirates denies Australian price fixing charge

Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:45am EDT

* Airline says will fight allegations by regulator *

* Regulator says Emirates is 9th airline charged (Adds Emirates comment, background)

SYDNEY/DUBAI Aug 18 (Reuters) - Gulf-based airline Emirates [EMAIR.UL] says it will fight allegations by Australia's regulator that the Dubai-based carrier fixed air cargo prices.

"Emirates denies the allegations and will be defending the proceedings," the company said in an emailed statement. "It does not intend to make any further comment given that the matter is before the court."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleges that between 2002 and 2006, Emirates made agreements or understandings with rival freight carriers to fix cargo rates and fuel and security surcharges. A Sydney court will hear the case against Emirates on Sept. 11.

A statement from the ACCC said Emirates is the ninth airline it has charged with fixing fuel surcharge prices.

In December 2008, Qantas Airways (QAN.AX) and British Airways BAY.L were fined $20 million and $5 million respectively, while four other airlines have been fined between $3 million and $5 million this year, taking the total fines to $41 million to date.

The ACCC also has similar proceedings ongoing against Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) and the cargo arm of Singapore Airlines and warns other carriers are likely to face charges. (Reporting by Mark Bendeich and Matt Smith; Editing by Hans Peters)

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