Antitrust Lawyer Blog Commentary on Current Developments

MAJOR INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES PLEAD GUILTY AND AGREE TO PAY FINES FOR THEIR ROLE IN MAJOR CONSPIRACY TO FIX AIR CARGO RATES

On June 26, 2008, five major international airlines including Socit Air France (Air France), Cathay Pacific Airways Limited (Cathay), Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines), Martinair Holland N.V. (Martinair), and SAS Cargo Group A/S (SAS) pled guilty and agreed to pay fines for their role in a major international conspiracy to fix prices for cargo shipments to and from the United States.

The airlines agreed to pay a total of $504 million, of which Air France-KLM, which operates under a common ownership, will play $350 million, the second highest fine ever levied in a criminal antitrust prosecution. Cathay, based in Hong Kong, agreed to pay a $60 million criminal fine; Martinair, based in the Netherlands, agreed to pay a $42 million criminal fine; and SAS, based in Denmark, agreed to pay a $52 million criminal fine. If the court accepts this plea, the total fines imposed in this ongoing investigation in the air transportation industry will equal more than $1.27 billion, marking the highest total amount of fines ever imposed in a criminal antitrust investigation.

British Airways, Korean Air Lines, Quantas Airways, Japan Airlines, and a former Quantas Airways executive have all pled guilty and agreed to pay criminal fines ranging from $61 million to $300 million.


Andre Barlow

(202) 589-1834
abarlow@dbmlawgroup.com