* Deutsche Bahn seeks total of 2.1 billion euros
* Says Schenker unit was overcharged for cargo services
* Company says prepared to settle out of court (Recasts with overall damages sought, adds details on U.S. suit, background)
BERLIN, Dec 1 (Reuters) - State-controlled German rail company Deutsche Bahn is seeking a total of about 2.1 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in damages in Germany and United States from air freight carriers that were involved in a cartel.
The separate suits relate to an air cargo cartel first exposed seven years ago that triggered fines in the European Union and in the United States.
The rail monopoly is seeking 1.2 billion euros in damages plus 560 million euros in interest in a suit filed with a court in Cologne, plus another $370 million in the United States, Deutsche Bahn said in a statement on Monday.
The U.S. portion could increase to about $1.1 billion if the court exercises its option to treble damages in the case, it said.
European regulators fined 11 airlines 800 million euros in 2010 in the price fixing case, which opened the door to private claims.
Deutsche Bahn says its freight business Schenker was overcharged for air cargo services for more than six years as carriers colluded in setting fuel and security surcharges.
In addition, the airlines refused to pay the freight forwarders standard commissions on the surcharges they were adding to base rates, it said.
The airlines it is suing in Germany are Lufthansa, Air Canada, British Airways, Cargolux , Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LAN, Qantas, SAS and Singapore Airlines .
In the United States, it is seeking damages from Air France , All Nippon Airways, Cargolux, KLM, Martin Air, Qantas and SAS.
It said Lufthansa alone was to blame for 10-20 percent of the damage caused by the cartel. Lufthansa declined to comment.
Deutsche Bahn said it was prepared to settle the matter out of court but added that the carriers had so far not been prepared to hold concrete talks on damages. ($1 = 0.8022 euro) (Reporting by Matthias Sobolewski; Writing by Ludwig Burger and Maria Sheahan; editing by Thomas Atkins/Keith Weir)