LAN Cargo to pay $88m in US price-fixing probe

By Nicholas Ionides

Chile's Lan has agreed to pay a fine of $88 million to settle US Government claims of price-fixing in its cargo operations.

The carrier says in a statement that Lan Cargo has reached a plea agreement with the US Department of Justice "in relation to the DOJ's ongoing investigation regarding price-fixing of fuel surcharges and other fees for cargo shipments".

It says it has agreed to pay a fine of $88 million over a five-year period, adding that it had already set aside $75 million in reserves "in anticipation of a financial penalty".

In addition, it says airfreight company Aerolinhas Brasileiras SA (ABSA), in which it has an equity stake, has agreed to pay a $21 million fine over a five-year period.

"The origin of this investigation lies in acts that have been deemed by the US authorities to be transgressions of the competition law of the United States and that Lan Cargo has accepted as such," it says.

"Lan Cargo condemns any violations of competition laws and has taken the necessary measures to prevent such actions from occurring in the future."

It says the DOJ's investigation covered Lan Cargo's activities between February 2003 and February 2006.

Competition regulations from the USA, Europe and elsewhere have been investigating many of the world's international airlines for alleged price-fixing in their air cargo operations.

Lan says eight other airlines have also reached similar settlement agreements with US authorities covering fines totalling $1.27 billion.

Copyright © 2009 Aviation News Release

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