Eleven airlines have been fined a total of almost 800 million euros by EU competition regulators for fixing cargo prices.
They had made deals among themselves over surcharges they imposed to offset increases in fuel costs.
The biggest fines went to Air France-KLM with nearly 310 million euros, then British Airways with a 104 million fine and Luxembourg-based Cargolux at almost 80 million.
The other European companies fined were Martinair and SAS.
Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia called it deplorable.
He said: “Had it not been for the Commission’s intervention, the cartel would not have ended in 2006 and, more than likely, it would have continued through the economic downturn creating more harm to companies and consumers.”
Germany’s Lufthansa was not fined as it reported the cartel to the European Commission in 2006.
A total of 26 carriers were originally investigated.
Outside Europe the companies fined were Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and LAN Chile.
As part of the same investigation, the US Department of Justice has imposed fines of 1.2 billion euros on more than 20 airlines and four executives received prison sentences.