Air France, BA, Carriers Get $1.1 Billion EU Cartel Fines

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Air France, BA, Carriers Get $1.1 Billion EU Cartel Fines

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Nov 10, 2010 ... 3LV1S2.DTL

Air France, BA, Carriers Get $1.1 Billion EU Cartel Fines
Bloomberg November 9, 2010

Air France-KLM Group, British Airways Plc and SAS Group AB were among 11 carriers fined a total of 799.4 million euros ($1.1 billion) by European Union regulators for fixing cargo fees.

Air France and its units got the biggest fine of 339.6 million euros. British Airways was fined 104 million euros and SAS Group AB got a 70.2 million-euro penalty, the European Commission said. Cargolux Airlines International SA, Europe's third-biggest air-freight carrier, was fined 79.9 million euros.

"It is deplorable that so many major airlines coordinated their pricing to the detriment of European businesses and European consumers," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in an e-mailed statement.

The EU fines come three years after regulators sent complaints to 26 airlines, following coordinated antitrust raids across the world that led to jail terms for some executives, fines and settlements. U.S. authorities have already fined 18 airlines at least $1.6 billion and filed criminal charges against 14 executives for price-fixing.

Air France's fine exceeds the company's total provisions for the case, spokeswoman Brigitte Barrand said. From 530 million euros set aside as a provision in 2008, Air France-KLM had already paid out almost 330 million euros in fines and class-action awards in the U.S., Canada and Australia, she said in a telephone interview.

British Airways said in an e-mailed statement its fine was "within the provision made by the company in its 2006/7 report and accounts."

SAS, owner of Scandinavia's biggest airline, said that it will appeal its fine.

"SAS believes that it has not been involved in a global cartel and that therefore, the fines are disproportionate," it said in a statement to the Stockholm stock exchange.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe's second-largest airline, wasn't fined because it was the first to inform on the cartel, the EU's antitrust agency said.

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