Canada fines LATAM Airlines for cargo price-fixing

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian court fined LATAM Airlines Group SA LAN.SN C$975,000 ($938,000) after the carrier admitted taking part in an air cargo price-fixing cartel, Canada's Competition Bureau said on Tuesday.

The Chile-based airline’s guilty plea related to fuel surcharges it imposed on international air cargo shipments from Canada to South America and elsewhere between March 2003 and February 2006, the bureau said in a statement.

“LAN Cargo has cooperated closely with Canadian authorities throughout the investigation process,” said LATAM in a response statement emailed to Reuters, and has since strengthened its internal controls.

The investigation did not involve LATAM’s air passenger business, it added.

The airline is the ninth to be convicted as part of a Canadian investigation into cargo price-fixing that has resulted in fines exceeding C$25 million so far.

“The bureau’s investigation into the alleged conduct of other air cargo carriers continues,” the competition bureau said in its statement.

Other carriers that have pleaded guilty to fixing cargo surcharges include Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd 0293.HK, Air France-KLM SA AIRF.PA, Cargolux Airlines International SA CLUX.UL, British Airways ICAG.L, Martinair Holland NV MART.UL, Qantas Airways Ltd QAN.AX and Korean Air Lines Co Ltd 003490.KS.

Reporting by David Ljunggren, additional reporting by Anthony Esposito and Rosalba O’Brien in Santiago; Editing by Peter Galloway and Phil Berlowitz