Delta Air Lines will pay a $38 million fine to settle charges that the cargo business it bought with Northwest Airlines took part in a global conspiracy to fix air freight prices, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.
The settlement makes Delta the first American carrier to pay a criminal penalty in the investigation into a worldwide conspiracy that officials say cost shippers in the U.S., Europe and Asia millions of dollars in excess prices and surcharges.
Delta’s fine settles allegations in the U.S. that the Northwest Cargo operation, which ran a fleet of 747 freighters in trans-Pacific service, conspired with other carriers between 2004 and 2006.
The Justice Department said in a statement that Northwest “monitored and enforced adherence to the agreed-upon rates” during that time.
Delta bought Northwest in 2008 and decided to ground the standalone freighter business soon after the carriers merged their operations.
More than a dozen airlines have paid more than $1.6 billion in fines in the United States and several former airline cargo executives have been jailed as a result of the investigation.
American Airlines this week agreed to pay $5 million to settle a civil class-action lawsuit over the price-fixing, but the carrier admitted no wrong-doing and has not faced criminal charges.