November 8, 2010 / 4:32 PM / 9 years ago

Airlines face EU fines totalling 800 million euros - source

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British Airways, Air France-KLM and 11 other carriers are set to be fined a total of about 800 million euros (687 million pounds) by EU competition regulators for fixing cargo prices, a source with direct knowledge of the case said on Monday.

A British Airways passenger jet taxis past parked BA jets at Heathrow airport in London July 30, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The European Commission charged the carriers in December 2007 with participating in an air freight cartel, following raids on both sides of the Atlantic a year earlier that also involved the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Thirteen airlines will be fined, of which six are non-European carriers,” said the source.

Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia will announce the fine at a Brussels news conference at 1600 GMT on Tuesday.

British Airways could be penalised by as much as 120 million euros, the source said. A different source with direct knowledge of the case had told Reuters last month that the Commission was considering fining BA 60-80 million euros but had not finalised the figure at that time.

Other carriers facing fines include Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, the source said. The Commission had initially targeted more than 20 companies in its probe.

The EU watchdog did not identify the companies but BA, Lufthansa, SAS, Air France-KLM, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air Canada and Alitalia had all previously confirmed that they had been investigated.

Lufthansa alerted the Commission about the cartel and therefore will not face a fine.

Korean Air, Cargolux and Malaysia Airlines were also investigated by the Commission, another source familiar with the case said last month.

The commission can penalise companies up to 10 percent of their global sales for breaching EU rules, but fines rarely reach that level.

BA and Korean Air each paid $300 million in criminal fines in the U.S. price probe in 2007; Air France-KLM agreed to a $87 million U.S. civil antitrust claims settlement in July.

Editing by Greg Mahlich

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