Two British Airways execs resign amid fuel probe
Two executives at British Airways have resigned amid an investigation into alleged price-fixing of fuel surcharges.
Martin George, British Airways' commercial director, and Iain Burns, head of communications, had been on leave of absence since June when the U.K.’s Office of Fair Trading and the U.S. Justice Department began a joint investigation focused on long-haul passenger fuel surcharges.
The investigation is separate from a price-fixing investigation into the air cargo market involving British Airways and other carriers such as Lufthansa, American Airlines, United Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air France-KLM, Cathay Pacific, Scandinavian Airlines System, and Cargolux.
“I now recognize that within my department, there may have been inappropriate conversations in violation of company policy in relation to long-haul fuel surcharges. I was not involved in such conversations. Although the board of BA have not found that I have behaved in a dishonest way, I fully recognize my responsibilities as head of department and as a board director,” George wrote in a letter to Martin Broughton, British Airways’ chairman.
“I have always taken my responsibilities very seriously and I therefore depart with deep regret, whilst believing that departing is, in these circumstances and for these reasons, nevertheless, the right course,” he added.
Investigations are still ongoing with the airline facing a fine of up to 10 percent of its revenue, which amounted to '8.5 billion ($15.85 billion) in its last fiscal year.
Robert Boyle, British Airways’ director of planning, has been appointed as George’s replacement. The airline has also named Thomas Coops as its interim head of corporate and media relations, replacing Burns. Coops was communications director at the Abbey National bank.