British Airways Fuel-Price Fix Fine Cut to 58.5 Million Pounds

IAG’s British Airways (IAG) unit had its fine for colluding to fix passenger fuel surcharges with Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. cut by more than 50 percent to 58.5 million pounds ($94 million).

The latest fine from the Office of Fair Trading is lower than a 121.5 million-pound sum imposed in 2007 because of legal changes and the fact that BA’s assistance wasn’t properly reflected in the original penalty, the antitrust regulator said.

The watchdog had accused British Airways of scheming with Virgin Atlantic to fix fuel surcharges on trans-Atlantic flights from July 2004 through April 2006. A criminal trial against four former and current BA executives collapsed in 2010 amid problems with evidence, including corrupted e-mails.

“The size of the fine underlines that it is important for companies to take steps to ensure that they have an effective compliance culture,” Ali Nikpay, the OFT’s senior director of cartels and criminal enforcement, said today in a statement. “The fine would have been higher still but for the co-operation provided by BA throughout the OFT’s investigation.”

Virgin Atlantic wasn’t fined because it brought the matter to the OFT’s attention. BA merged with Spain’s Iberia in January to form International Consolidated Airlines Group SA.

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