British Airways and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are set for a further clash over the payment of a £121.5 million fine.
Although BA is yet to officially confirm the non-payment, a spokesman has admitted the airline is reviewing its options following the collapse of the price-fixing trial on Monday, which led to four current and former BA executives being found not guilty.
He admitted the option not to pay the fine remains on the table.
The fine was imposed in 2007 for breaching civil competition laws in relation to price-fixing allegations made by Virgin Atlantic ahead of the criminal investigation into whether any individuals dishonestly fixed the level of surcharges.
It was agreed at the time that payment of the fine would be suspended until after the criminal case.
However, following the trial’s collapse a BA spokesman said: “Both sides are reviewing their options. The fine was put on hold until the criminal case was completed, and obviously everyone expected it to be completed and not to collapse.
“There’s a possibility we might not come out and pay but we can’t say that now; we need to see what the implications are.”
However, OFT chief executive John Fingleton has vowed to chase the airline for the money, adding the airline had no grounds to resist paying the fine.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he said: “We are not going to have a battle over this. The criteria needed for a civil case and for a criminal case are totally different.”
An OFT spokeswoman added: “We are expecting them to pay the fine and if it isn’t going to happen then it is something we would look at pursuing through the Competition Appeals Tribunal.”
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