On January 22, 2009, three air cargo airlines, LAN Cargo S.A. (“LAN”), a Chilean company, Aerolinhas Brasileiras S.A. (“ABSA”), a Brazilian company, and EL AL Israel Airlines Ltd. (“EL AL”), an Israeli company, each pled guilty for their role in a worldwide conspiracy to fix prices in the air cargo industry and agreed to pay criminal fines totaling $124.7 million. LAN, which owns a substantial portion of ABSA, agreed to pay a criminal fine of $109 million while EL AL agreed to pay a criminal fine of $15.7 million.
According to the charges, the three air cargo airlines allegedly conspired in the United States and elsewhere to eliminate competition by fixing the cargo rates charged to customers for international air shipments, including to and from the United States. LAN and ABSA allegedly participated in the conspiracy from February 2003 to February 2006. EL AL participated in the conspiracy between January 2003 and February 2006.
As a part of this same investigation, nine other airlines, including British Airways, Korean Air Lines, Quantas Airways, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Martinair Cargo, Air France, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and a former Quantas executive have been charged in the DOJ’s ongoing investigation in the air cargo industry. More than $1.2 billion in criminal fines have been imposed.