British Airways €104m fine for price-fixing thrown out by EU General Court

Hayley Kirton
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In total, the companies involved in the price fixing were fined €790m (Source: Getty)

British Airways has reason to rejoice after a €104m (£75.8m) penalty imposed on it was thrown out by the General Court of the European Union today, on the grounds that the original decision contained contradictions.

The airline company was originally landed with the fine following an European Commission decision in 2010 over allegations surrounding its role in an alleged price-fixing cartel in regards to its fuel and security surcharges for its freight business.

Also among the 11 air cargo carriers involved are Air Canada, Air France-KLM and Japan Airlines.

However, British Airways, alongside most of the other carriers involved, contested that the Commission had considered in its decision four different infringements relating to different routes and periods, but the grounds for the decision were based on there being just one single, continuous, worldwide infringement. The decision, therefore, contained contradictions.

The EU General Court agreed that the inconsistency existed and annulled the fines charged to most of the companies. The court also concluded that the inconsistencies in the decision infringed on the companies' defence rights.

The ruling can still be appealed to the European Court of Justice.

In total, the companies were fined €790m, with British Airways being handed one of the larger fines. Air France was fined €182.9m and KLM, the company Air France merged with in 2004, was fined €127.2m

Qantas Airways was the only company originally fined that did not contest the ruling, so the decision against its €8.9m fine still stands.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa escaped the original sanction as it blew the whistle on the price-fixing activities.

The spokesperson for the Commission said that it would "carefully examine the judgments and their implications as well as potential next steps".

A British Airways spokesperson said the company was currently reviewing the judgment.

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