British Airways has been hit with a record £121.5 million fine after it admitted to collusion over fuel surcharges on long-haul flights.
BA is facing a second fine from the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which will be announced later. The airline said the combined sum was likely to be consistent with the £350 million it set aside in May. The penalty from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is the highest ever imposed by the regulator for infringements of competition law. In a statement BA said that it had agreed a resolution with the OFT and entered a plea agreement with the United States Department of Justice (DoJ). The statement said: "The sum of the combined fine is consistent with our guidance and provision of £350 million." BA's chief executive Willie Walsh insisted passengers had not been overcharged, but condemned anti-competitive conduct by a "limited number of individuals" in the company. "I want to reassure our passengers that they were not overcharged. Fuel surcharges are a legitimate way of recovering costs," he said. "However, this does not in any way excuse the anti-competitive conduct by a very limited number of individuals within British Airways. Anti-competitive behaviour is entirely unacceptable and we condemn it unreservedly. "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." A statement added that criminal investigations by the DoJ and OFT were continuing into the conduct of individuals concerned.