28 Oct 2008

Qantas fined millions for price-fixing cartel

7:48 pm on 28 October 2008

Qantas has been forced to pay $A20 million ($NZ22 million) in fines after being caught in a price-fixing cartel with British Airways.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says Qantas and British Airways fixed prices on fuel surcharges on international air freight between 2002 and 2006.

The commission says both airlines have voluntarily made admissions in relation to their actions.

The regulator launched proceedings against the two airlines in the Federal Court, and Qantas has entered into a deed of settlement to pay the $A20 million penalty.

The ABC reports that Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon says the airline was made aware of the allegations in 2006, and has apologised for the conduct of the employees involved.

Qantas has already paid millions of dollars in fines to United States authorities after being prosecuted over international air cargo price fixing.

In July, former Qantas executive Bruce McCaffrey was sentenced to six months in a US jail for his role in international air cargo price fixing.

On Monday, Federal Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen said executives could face 10 years in jail for forming illegal business cartels if a package of laws is passed.

The proposed legislation could result in corporations being fined three times the value of the benefit they obtained from a cartel.