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LUXEMBOURG, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Europe's second highest court backed on Wednesday a challenge by Air France-KLM and other airlines against a near 800 million-euro ($873.9 million) cartel fine handed down to the group five years ago for fixing prices of air cargo.
"The General Court annulled the decision by which the Commission imposed fines amounting to approximately 790 million euros on several airlines for their participation in a cartel on the air freight market," the General Court said in its ruling.
The European Commission in its 2010 decision said that 11 air cargo carriers fixed surcharges for fuel and security from December 1999 to February 2006.
The other carriers were Air Canada, KLM, Martinair, British Airways, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Airways , Japan Airlines, LAN Chile, Qantas, SAS and Singapore Airlines. Lufthansa escaped a sanction because it blew the whistle on the cartel.
Air France took the biggest hit with a fine of 182.9 milion euros while KLM came in second at 127.2 million euros. The two carriers merged to form Air France-KLM in 2004. ($1 = 0.9143 euros) (Reporting by Michele Sinner, writing by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)