British Airways, Korean Air settle price-fixing cargo case
British Airways and Korean Air, both major carriers serving Miami International Airport and other major U.S. gateways, were fined $300 million each Thursday in a previously announced deal after pleading guilty to a price fixing scheme involving international air cargo movements.
Judge John D. Bates from the U.S. District Court in Washington said the air carriers' actions 'involved considerable commerce and reflected long-term and widespread conduct involving major airlines and players.'
Each carrier cooperated with U.S. Justice Department investigators. Under sentencing options, they could have paid as much as $900 million.
The carriers also issued statements against anticompetitive business practices and pledged their commitment to avoiding future antitrust incidents.
Neither company commented on the nature of the cooperation on cargo rates.
British Airways also agreed to a $246 million fine in the United Kingdom as part of an ongoing investigation into antitrust activities there.
According to an Associated Press report, Virgin Atlantic was part of the U.K. investigation, but would not face fines there because it had proactively reported its actions to authorities.
In Miami, the law firm of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg issued a statement saying the probe involved air freight carrier agreements regarding fuel, security and war-risk insurance premiums, and said it offers a program to help customers of air cargo carriers obtain refunds of the surcharges that are under investigation.
'The firm is pursuing claims against direct air freight shipping providers on behalf of its clients and has already reached confidential settlements with a number of airlines, some of the earliest resolutions of the pending civil cases,' the statement noted.