Australia-based Qantas Airways Limited is the latest airline to be charged in the DOJ’s ongoing investigation of price fixing in the market for international air cargo rates. On November 27, 2007 the DOJ filed a single count criminal complaint against Qantas charging the company with violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act. At the same time, the DOJ filed a proposed plea agreement which, if approved, will require Qantas to pay a US$61 million fine and cooperate with the agency’s further investigation of the conspiracy. With the plea agreement, Qantas joins coconspirators British Airways Plc and Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd., both of which pleaded guilty in August and agreed to pay a US$300 million fine for their roles in the conspiracy.
The DOJ has alleged that Qantas conspired with rival international air cargo carriers, between January 1, 2000 and February 14, 2006, to fix cargo rates charged to US customers for international air shipments. According to the charges, Qantas participated in meetings and other communications, in the US and elsewhere, wherein it agreed with competitors to fix rates for shipments on certain trans-Pacific routes to and from the United States. The DOJ estimated that Qantas earned more than US$600 million from shipments between the United States and Australia during its participation in the conspiracy