OFT cuts British Airways fine for fuel surcharge pact with Virgin

Marion Dakers
THE OFFICE of Fair Trading has halved a fine imposed on British Airways for colluding with rival airline Virgin Atlantic over fuel surcharges.

The consumer and competition watchdog said it had dropped the fine to £58.5m down from a record £121.5m thanks to BA’s help during the investigation and changes to competition law, following an initial decision made last November.

The OFT has fined BA for co-coordinating surcharges on long-haul flights with Virgin between 2004 and 2006, during which time the fee rose from £5 to £60 per ticket for a typical passenger.

Virgin, which blew the whistle to the OFT, has not been fined. BA reached an early resolution agreement in 2007, but criminal proceedings against four BA executives – which were dropped in 2010 – have drawn out the investigation.

The OFT’s Ali Nikpay said: “The size of the fine underlines that it is important for companies to take steps to ensure that they have an effective compliance culture. The fine would have been higher still but for the co-operation provided by BA throughout the OFT’s investigation.”

BA said in a statement: “We are pleased that this matter, which concerned events between 2004 and 2006, has been settled.”