Polar Air Cargo will pay a $17.4 million fine to settle charges the freighter operator took part in a global conspiracy with other airlines to fix international air cargo prices.
Polar parent Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings announced the settlement with the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division this week and said it covered price-fixing allegations for shipments from the United States and Australia between 2000 and 2003.
The penalty is the first against Polar in a series of antitrust investigations into allegations that carriers manipulated fuel charges and other fees in a global conspiracy. Carriers including Lufthansa Cargo, British Airways, Qantas and others have faced billions of dollars in penalties and several former cargo executives have been sentenced to jail terms in the United States.
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Atlas said the penalty was against its wholly owned Polar LLC subsidiary and said the employees involved in the alleged price-fixing actions remain with the company.
“The matter occurred before (Polar’s) emergence from bankruptcy in July 2004, and relates to a period more than seven years ago,” AAWH President and CEO William J. Flynn said. “It is also important to note that none of Atlas Air, Polar Air Cargo Worldwide or any of (the) current board or senior management were involved in or implicated in this investigation.”