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29 октября 2008
Qantas Guilty in Antitrust Case

Australian airline Qantas pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking part in an international conspiracy to fix air freight prices and will pay a US$13 million penalty under a settlement with Australian authorities. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the penalty reflects both the serious nature of the charges and Qantas' "very large share of the Australian segment of the market."

The plea agreement before the country's Competition and Consumer Commission follows the airline's guilty plea in the United States in which Qantas paid a $61 million fine. Former Qantas cargo manager for the United States Bruce McCaffrey pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to a jail term and a fine in that case. According to published reports in Australia, the commission could have imposed a far larger penalty on the airline but took into account Qantas' ongoing cooperation in a cargo antitrust investigation that has enveloped many of the world's largest freight airlines.

Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon issued an apology for what he called "the conduct of the employees involved" and said the airline has cooperated fully with the investigation. British Airways reached a similar agreement involving a fine of $3.4 million. Both airlines came forward and voluntarily admitted violations under the ACCC's cooperation policy. Both continue to cooperate with investigations the ACCC expects to resolve shortly.

Traffic World Staff

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