AMERICAS: Polar pleads guilty, fined $17 million

Polar Air Cargo, a division of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW), has reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division to settle a price fixing charge involving fuel surcharges and cargo rates amongst a group of carriers. The collusion involved shipments from the US to Australia during the period from January […]


Polar Air Cargo, a division of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW), has reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division to settle a price fixing charge involving fuel surcharges and cargo rates amongst a group of carriers. The collusion involved shipments from the US to Australia during the period from January 2000 to April 2003. Polar ¨C not to be confused with Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, AAWW’s operating subsidiary, which is not implicated ¨C will pay a fine of US$17.4 million, payable in instalments over five years. William J. Flynn, president and CEO of AAWW, said: “We are glad to put this matter behind us. It is important to note that it involves conduct that began in 2000, almost two years before Polar LLC was acquired by AAWW ¨C with final DOT approval of such Polar LLC acquisition not being granted until late May 2002. The matter occurred before Polar LLC’s emergence from bankruptcy in July 2004 and relates to a period more than seven years ago. It is also important to note that none of Atlas Air, Inc., Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, or any of AAWW’s current board or senior management were involved in or are implicated in this investigation.” Flynn noted that the group cooperated fully with the DOJ investigation and added: “We are continually reviewing our competition compliance rules and enhancing our training programmes, which call for all of our staff to comply fully with such requirements at all times, since we are committed to the highest standards of ethics and corporate governance.” The DOJ has won guilty pleas and fines from 16 other airlines, including Northwest Airlines, British Airways PLC, Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd., Qantas Airways Ltd., Japan Airlines International Co. Ltd., El Al Israel Airlines Ltd., LAN Cargo SA, Aerolinhas Brasileiras SA, Cargolux Airlines International SA, Nippon Cargo Airlines Co. Ltd., SAS Cargo Group, Martinair Holland NV and Asiana Airlines Inc.