UPDATE 2-BA could face cartel fine up to 80 mln euro-source

* EU antitrust decision due on Nov. 9-sources

* More than 20 airlines in EU probe begun in 2007

(Adds commission comment, shares)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Oct 26 (BestGrowthStock) – British Airways (BA) (BAY.L: )
could be fined up to 80 million euros ($112 million) next month
for fixing cargo prices with other carriers, a source with
direct knowledge of the case said on Tuesday.

The European Commission charged BA, Air France-KLM
(AIRF.PA: ), SAS (SAS.ST: ) and several other airlines in December
2007 with taking part in an air freight cartel.

The EU watchdog is expected to announce penalties for the
carriers on Nov. 9, several sources have told Reuters.

The charges followed raids on both sides of the Atlantic a
year earlier that also involved the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The Commission is considering a fine of between 60 to 80
million euros,” the source said, adding that no final decision
has been taken and discussions are continuing.

A European Commission spokeswoman described the figure as

BA, which declined to comment, lost a record 531 million
pounds in the year to March 2010 but expects to break even in
the full year to March 2011 despite bigger-than-expected first
quarter losses due to the impact of volcanic ash and strikes.

Shares in the company were trading at 279 pence on Tuesday
afternoon, about 1.7 percent down on the day.


The Commission has not identified the targets of its probe,
but BA, Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: ), SAS, Air France-KLM, Japan Airlines
(JALFQ.PK: ), Cathay Pacific (0293.HK: ), Japan Airlines (JALFQ.PK: ),
All Nippon Airways (9202.T: ), Air Canada (ACa.TO: ) and Alitalia
all confirmed they had been investigated.

Lufthansa previously said it had immunity as it alerted the
Commission to the cartel.

The probe initially targeted more than 20 carriers,
including Qantas (QAN.AX: ), Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI: ), Korean
Air (003490.KS: ), Cargolux [CLUX.UL], Malaysia Airlines (MASM.KL: )
and Alitalia, but not all are expected to be found guilty.

The Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their
global sales for breaching EU rules, but fines rarely reach that

BA and Korean Air each paid $300 million in criminal fines
in the U.S. price probe in 2007; Air France-KLM agreed to a $87
million U.S. civil antitrust claims settlement in July.
(Editing by Rex Merrifield; Additional reporting by Rhys Jones
in London; Editing by David Cowell)

UPDATE 2-BA could face cartel fine up to 80 mln euro-source