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Last Updated: Monday, 9 October 2006, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
BA pair quit amid surcharge probe
BA plane moving past hangar
BA has admitted talking to a competitor about fuel surcharges
Two British Airways officials have quit amid an investigation into alleged price-fixing of fuel surcharges.

The two - commercial director Martin George and communications chief Iain Burns - have been on leave of absence since the probe began in June.

The UK Office of Fair Trading and the US Department of Justice are looking at claims that BA had been informing other airlines of its fuel surcharge plans.

BA admitted it had contacted a competitor over fuel surcharges.

Breach of policy

In a letter to BA chairman Martin Broughton, Mr George said there may have been "inappropriate conversations" in his office over long-haul fuel surcharges, although he said he was not involved in "such conversations".

Contact took place with a competitor in respect of long-haul passenger fuel surcharges, in breach of the company's compliance policy
British Airways statement

He added: "Although the board have not found that I have behaved in a dishonest way, I fully recognise my responsibilities as head of department and as a board director."

Reports have said that a BA executive told a counterpart from rival airline Virgin Atlantic of plans to increase BA's fuel surcharge, and that Virgin then tipped off the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

British Airways has conducted an internal investigation in order to respond to the requests for information made by the regulators.

In a statement issued on Monday it admitted that "contact took place with a competitor in respect of long-haul passenger fuel surcharges, in breach of the company's compliance policy".

It added that it was still assisting the regulators with their investigations.

The OFT said its investigations into British Airways were still continuing.

If found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, BA could be fined up to 10% of its worldwide sales, which came in at 8.5bn for the year to 31 March.

Last February, BA and a number of other airlines, including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and SAS, were investigated by the European Commission and US competition authorities.

That inquiry was believed to focus on the area of fuel surcharges and other levies for cargo handling.

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