Florida West, executives charged in air cargo price-fixing probe

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Florida West International Airways, one of the carrier's former executives, and two executives with a competing freighter carrier have been indicted for allegedly participating in an air cargo price-fixing conspiracy.

A one-count indictment, returned late yesterday in US District Court in Miami, charges Luis Augusto Afanador, Rodrigo Hernan Hidalgo and Jaime Lara Rueda with conspiring to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing and coordinating certain components of cargo rates, including peak season, security and fuel surcharges for international air shipments from Colombia to Miami.

Afanador and Lara are senior executives of a Colombian air cargo carrier based in Bogota. The US Department of Justice, which has been conducting an ongoing investigation into price fixing in the air transportation industry, says Hidalgo is a former vice president of sales and marketing for Florida West.

The DOJ says the conspiracy began at least as early as January 2002 and continued until at least 14 February 2006. Florida West is charged with joining and participating in the conspiracy.

Flightglobal's ACAS database shows that Florida West operates two Boeing 767-300 freighters.

Separately, Hidalgo was indicted on 28 October by a Miami grand jury for participating in another conspiracy to fix surcharges on air cargo shipments from the United States to South and Central America following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. That charge is pending.