Singapore Airlines Cargo agreed to plead guilty to a charge of fixing air cargo rates on shipments to and from the U.S. between 2002 and 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice said Nov. 30.
The airline, one of 20 of the world's largest airlines accused of conspiring to fix rates and surcharges, will pay a $48 million fine and continue to cooperate in the department's investigation as part of the one-count felony plea agreement.
According to the department, the airline, which operates in 21 different countries, fixed rates on shipments from as early as February 2002 until mid February 2006.
Conspiring to fix rates on air cargo shipments is a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. To date, the department has imposed $1.7 billion in fines on 18 airlines for price fixing.
Other airlines, including British Airways, Air France-KLM and Japan Air Lines, have faced hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties in the United States and in Europe due to their roles in the global conspiracy. Seventeen executives to date have faced criminal charges as part of investigations, with four of those executives already sentenced to prison time.
British Airways pleaded guilty in 2007 to price fixing as part of a global cartel between 2000 and 2006, and was fined $300 million by the U.S. Department of Justice.
On Nov. 9, the European Commission, after performing their own four-year investigation, fined BA, along with 10 other airlines, for its role in the cartel and imposed a $145.6 million fine.
Air France-KLM, Europe's biggest cargo airline, was hit with the largest fine by the European Comission: $476 million. Singapore Airlines was fined $104.7 million. The other airlines facing EU fines include Cargolux $112 million, SAS Scandinavian Airline System $98.3 million, Cathay Pacific $80 million, Japan Air Lines $50 million, Martinair $41.3 million and Air Canada $29.4 million.
Australian airline Qantas and LAN Chile were both fined around $12 million.
Lufthansa was found guilty of price fixing but escaped fines because it notified the Commission of the cartel and co-operated in its investigations.
-- Contact Dana Brundage at email@example.com .