Airlines That Fixed Prices Find That DOJ Does Have a Heart
By David Stout | November 18, 2011 11:09 am

Some of the world’s biggest airlines are able to renegotiate big fines imposed on them by the Department of Justice for price-fixing years ago, Reuters reports.

The airlines, which engaged in price-fixing as their profits were undermined by a slumping economy, have used the latest financial crisis to argue, successfully, that payment schedules for fines could push them into bankruptcy, federal prosecutors told Aruna Viswanatha of Reuters.

“The authorities have responded positively and airlines are finding surprising wiggle room in renegotiating multimillion-dollar fines,” Viswanatha writes. “Some fines have been deferred or the interest charges on them scrapped.”

A former official in the DOJ’s Antitrust Division said, “There is a sensitivity to the consequences for the market of what is in essence a death penalty for a company.” Such renegotiations are rare, and the DOJ is reluctant to discuss them.

“According to antitrust lawyers and court records, among those to benefit have been Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd., Japan Airlines Co. Ltd., Asiana Airlines Inc. and Cargolux Airlines International SA,” Viswanatha reports.

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