Airlines agree to pay 500 million dollars in price-fixing fines
A group of international airlines pleaded guilty to a worldwide price-fixing scheme and agreed to pay fines of more than 500 million dollars, the US Justice Department said Thursday.
It is the latest in a series of settlements with airlines embroiled in a multi-year conspiracy to regulate prices on cargo flights. Nearly 800 million dollars in fines had already been imposed by the United States in the scandal, the dpa reported.
Air France-KLM, SAS and Martinair will share the latest fines. British Airways, Korean Air Lines, Qantas Airways and Japan Airlines have all already been penalized since August 2007.
"The airlines each engaged in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the cargo rates charged to customers for international air shipments," the department said.
Criminal charges to that effect were filed in a US district court in Washington on Thursday.
Air France-KLM, a French-Dutch airline that merged in 2004, will pay the bulk of the fine, 350 million dollars, which would be the second largest criminal penalty ever secured by the department in an anti-trust case.
Hong Kong's Cathay will pay 60 million dollars, Danish airline SAS agreed to 52 million dollars and Holland's Martinair was fined 42 million dollars.