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BA fined over fuel surcharges

UK flag carrier British Airways (BA) has been fined £121.5 million by officials after admitting price-fixing of fuel surcharges on long-haul flights.

The penalty is the highest ever imposed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for infringements of company law.

BA admitted that it colluded withVirgin Atlantic over the surcharges added to ticket prices between August 2004 and January 2006.

Over this period fuel surcharges on BA and Virgin flights rose from £5 to £60 on long-haul routes.

During the OFT investigation, BA offered full cooperation and this was reflected in a reduced fine.

British Airways' chief executive, Willie Walsh, accepted the fine and said: "I want to reassure our passengers that they were not overcharged. Fuel surcharges are a legitimate way of recovering costs.

"However this does not in any way excuse the anti-competitive conduct by a very limited number of individuals within British Airways.

"We have a long-standing competition compliance policy which requires all staff to comply with the law at all times. I am satisfied that we have the right controls in place. However, it is deeply regrettable that some individuals ignored our policy."

Later today (August 1st), BA could also be fined by the US Department of Justice. This is expected to bring the total fine faced by the airline to £350 million.

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