EUROPE: BA admits to price fixing charges

British Airways last month announced it has set aside 350 million pounds (US$690 million) to settle charges that it fixed air-cargo prices with other airlines. Europe’s third-largest carrier, which is being investigated by the UK and the US for alleged price fixing on fuel surcharges, after British investigators were tipped off by rival Virgin Atlantic, […]


British Airways last month announced it has set aside 350 million pounds (US$690 million) to settle charges that it fixed air-cargo prices with other airlines.

Europe’s third-largest carrier, which is being investigated by the UK and the US for alleged price fixing on fuel surcharges, after British investigators were tipped off by rival Virgin Atlantic, admitted there had been “breaches” in its compliance with anti-trust regulations as its operating profit in fiscal 2007 fell to 602 million pounds ($1.2 billion) from $1.37 billion the previous year. Cargo volume tumbled 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter to 177,000 tonnes from 202,000 tons a year ago, leaving full-year traffic at 762,000 tons, down 4.2 percent from 795,000 tons. Full-year cargo revenues fell 3.1 percent to $1.22 billion.

British Airways is among 16 European, American and Asian airlines under investigation by European and U.S. regulators into alleged price-fixing of fuel surcharges for airfreight. The allegations cover routes to Europe, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The airline said the $690 million provision is “the best estimate” of the amount required to settle all regulators’ fines and civil claims but said the final bill is still “subject to uncertainty”.

Lufthansa, the world’s second-largest cargo airline after Korean Air, agreed in September to pay $85 million to settle 80 class-action suits in the US linked to cargo price-fixing.