COMPAT disposes of plea against cargo accounts settlement system

The Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) has disposed of a plea seeking a restraint on implementation of International Air Transport Association's cargo accounts settlement system on the ground that it was a voluntary measure for agents and airlines.

The Air Cargo Agents Association of India had moved the COMPAT after the Competition Commission ruled against its injunction application opposing the accounts settlement system, indicating it was not compulsory for agents.

Though the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had maintained that the pilot project was not binding on cargo agents, they had expressed the apprehension that they would "suffer" if the accounts settlement system was made compulsory at a later stage.

"Fortunately for the appellant (The Air Cargo Agents Association of India), that would be only a distant possibility. If that is made compulsory, we are certain that the members of the appellant will have an independent cause of action," the COMPAT observed.

Maintaining that the accounts settlement system was voluntary for airlines and cargo agents, the counsels for Air Cargo Agents Association of India and IATA pointed out before the tribunal that the accounts settlement system was voluntary and cargo agents, who wanted to deal with airlines outside this system, were free to do so.

Cargo agents counsel did not press the appeal and sought to withdraw it with the liberty to approach COMPAT in case it became necessary. Following this, the COMPAT disposed of the appeal.

According to IATA, the cargo account settlement system, which is operational in about 81 countries, simplifies the billing and settling of accounts between airlines and cargo agents.
Among the nations using this are Australia, France, Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

It had also claimed that since the launch of the CASS India Pilot in May 2013, "there has been an increase in the number of participating cargo agents, with more airlines and agents expressing active interest to participate".

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