Nigeria throws out fines against BA

2012-02-10 13:59

Lagos - A Nigerian judicial panel has thrown out fines totalling $235m imposed on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic by the country's civil aviation authorities, officials said on Friday.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had argued that BA and Virgin Atlantic charged more for routes to Nigeria than to nearby Ghana and alleged that they colluded over fares.

In November, it fined British Airways $135m and Virgin Atlantic $100m, while a judicial panel was assigned to look into the case.

Harold Demuren, head of the civil aviation authority, told AFP the panel "cancelled the fines because at the time of the offence between 2004 and 2006, there was no law to make them culpable".

"As far as we are concerned, the two airlines are guilty," he said.

Both airlines have denied the allegations. Demuren said the authority intended to pursue the matter further, but was still studying which steps to take.

The fines came as Nigeria's government engaged in negotiations with British officials over allegations that British Airways had been overcharging on its routes between Nigeria and Britain.

It also held talks with British officials over slots at London's Heathrow airport. Demuren denied at the time that the fines were linked to the negotiations over the Heathrow slots.