Operators Air France and KLM receive second highest fine ever in criminal antitrust prosecution

Major international airlines pleaded guilty and were fined $504m for participating in a lengthy conspiracy to fix prices for air cargo rates.

Those fined include Société Air France, Cathay Pacific Airways, Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines), Martinair Holland N.V., and SAS Cargo Group.

Of the $504m in fines, Air France-KLM will pay a $350m criminal fine, the second highest fine ever levied in a criminal antitrust prosecution.

According to the charges, brought by the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, the airlines conspired to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the cargo rates charged to customers for international air shipments. The conduct affected billions of dollars of consumer goods shipped by these airlines.

If the court accepts the plea it would bring the total fines imposed in the Antitrust Division’s investigation in the air transportation industry to more than $1.27bn, marking the highest total amount of fines ever imposed in a criminal antitrust investigation.

Kevin O’Connor, associate attorney general, said: ‘This price-fixing conspiracy undermines our economy and harms the American people who, due to lack of true competition in this area, end up footing the bill.’