OFT halves BA fine for fuel surcharge scam
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has ordered British Airways to pay £58.5 for a fuel surcharge scam it was involved in six years ago with Virgin Atlantic. The final sum is less than half the total that BA was originally asked to pay in 2007.
Between August 2004 and January 2006, BA and Virgin co-ordinated their surcharge pricing on long-haul flights to and from the UK through the exchange of pricing and other commercially sensitive information.
In 2007 BA admitted to colluding with Virgin Atlantic over price fixing on long-haul flights between August 2004 and January 2006.
Virgin Atlantic was not fined since it brought the matter to the OFT’s attention.
The fine was halved to £58.5 million as part of its new guidelines for financial sanctions and following BA’s co-operation with the enquiry.
A spokesperson for BA commented: “We are pleased that this matter, which concerned events between 2004 and 2006, has been settled.”
Ali Nikpay, OFT Senior Director of Cartels and Criminal Enforcement, said: ‘This decision brings an end to this investigation and sends out a strong message that co-ordinating pricing through the exchange of confidential information between competitors is unlawful.
“The size of the fine underlines that it is important for companies to take steps to ensure that they have an effective compliance culture.”
He added: “The fine would have been higher still but for the co-operation provided by BA throughout the OFT’s investigation. Without this, together with BA’s admission of the infringement, the case would have taken considerably longer to resolve.”
The verdict comes a year after the collapse of criminal proceedings against a number of former BA executives.