British Airways has been fined Ł121.5m by the United Kingdom Office of Fair Trading after the airline reportedly admitted price-fixing of fuel surcharges on long-haul flights. (8/1/2007)
The OFT said BA had admitted colluding with rival Virgin Atlantic Airways to fix passenger fuel surcharges on long-haul flights from August 2004 to January 2006. Virgin Atlantic has been given immunity after it reported BA’s activity and is not expected to be fined, the OFT said.
The OFT estimated that the surcharges rose from slightly more than $10 to nearly $122 per ticket for a typical BA or Virgin Atlantic long-haul return flight during that period.
BA is facing a second fine from the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which will be announced later. The airline said the combined sum was likely to be consistent with the Ł350 million it set aside in May.
As per the information available, BA’s Chief Executive Willie Walsh said that passengers had not been overcharged because fuel surcharges were “a legitimate way of recovering costs.”
However, he acknowledged that the conduct of some of the carrier’s employees had been wrong and could not be excused.
“Anti-competitive behaviour is entirely unacceptable and we condemn it unreservedly,” he said. “We have a long-standing competition compliance policy which requires all staff to comply with the law at all times.”
“I am satisfied that we have the right controls in place. However, it is deeply regrettable that some individuals ignored our policy.”