Qantas Airways pleads guilty to US price-fixing charges

WASHINGTON, Nov 27, 2007 (AFP) – Australian airline Qantas Airways has agreed to plead guilty to fixing prices in international air cargo shipments and pay a 61-million-dollar fine, the US Justice Department said Tuesday. Between June 2000 and February 2006, Qantas engaged in a conspiracy to eliminate competition by fixing the rates for shipments of cargo to and from the US and elsewhere, according to the charges filed Tuesday against the carrier, the Justice Department said in a statement.

“The shipment of consumer products by air transportation is critical to our global economy. Our investigation into this important industry will continue, and we will aggressively pursue those who engage in criminal conduct that harms American consumers,” said Thomas Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s antitrust division.

During the time period covered by the felony charge, Qantas was the largest carrier of cargo between the United States and Australia and earned more than 600 million dollars from its cargo flights to and from the US, the department noted.

The department said that Qantas has agreed to cooperate with its ongoing investigation under the plea agreement, which is subject to court a