August 7, 2008

Four Charged in BA Price Fixing Case

Britain's Office of Fair Trading charged four current and former British Airways executives with price fixing Thursday, officials said.

The four were charged with fixing fuel surcharges on long-distance passenger flights, The Daily Mail reported Thursday.

The four include head of sales Andrew Crawley and former executives Martin George, Iain Burns and Alan Burnett.

Regulators allege the four colluded with rival airline Virgin Atlantic executives, who weren't charged due to Virgin Atlantic's role as whistle blower in the case, The Daily Mail reported.

An estimated 11 million BA passengers were overcharged about $194 million, the newspaper said.

All three of the former executives retired from the airline in 2006. When former commercial director George retired, his resignation letter said he had knowledge of "inappropriate conversations in violation of company policy."

George's letter didn't admit to any personal involvement, however, The Daily Mail reported.

The executives could receive up five years in prison and fines.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the OFT have already levied about $525 million in fines for the airline's part in the affair. Virgin Atlantic and BA have since created a fund of roughly $200 million to compensate passengers, the report said.