BA-Virgin cartel: Four accused plead not guilty

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Four executives with links to British Airways have reportedly pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the illegal fuel surcharge cartel organised between BA and rival Virgin Atlantic.

The four - Andrew Crawley, Martin George, Iain Burns and Alan Burnett - appeared at Southwark crown court in London today for a pre-trial review, after being formally accused of cartel offences.

The Office of Fair Trading, the UK's consumer regulation body, says their trial will begin on 18 January 2010, and is expected to last for two weeks.

George, Burnett and Burns have left BA. Burns became corporate communications head at Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways in late 2006.

Etihad Airways has today named a new senior vice-president of corporate communications, Qantas Airways' Belinda de Rome. Its statement, which does not refer to Burns, says de Rome will take up the role on 16 August.