The UK office of Fair Trading has imposed a £58.5 million ($93.8 million) penalty against British Airways in relation to anti-competitive practices in the pricing of passenger fuel surcharges between 2004-2006.

"The OFT has concluded that between August 2004 and January 2006, BA and VAA (Virgin Atlantic Airways) co-ordinated their surcharge pricing on long-haul flights to and from the UK through the exchange of pricing and other commercially sensitive information," says the OFT in a statement.

"The decision brings the OFT's investigation to a conclusion," it adds.

Under the OFT's leniency policy Virgin was not fined. The carrier had been granted immunity from penalties after it relayed details of the anti-competitive exchanges to the OFT.

'This decision brings an end to this investigation and sends out a strong message that co-ordinating pricing through the exchange of confidential information between competitors is unlawful," says Ali Nikpay, OFT senior director of cartels and criminal enforcement.

"The size of the fine underlines that it is important for companies to take steps to ensure that they have an effective compliance culture. The fine would have been higher still but for the co-operation provided by BA throughout the OFT's investigation. Without this, together with BA's admission of the infringement, the case would have taken considerably longer to resolve."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news