Cathay Pacific Airlines has pleaded guilty to conspiring with other airlines to fix the prices of navigation surcharges on cargo flown to and from Canada, the Competition Bureau announced Thursday.

The airline was fined $1.5 million for its participation in the price-fixing scheme, which occurred between 1999 and 2003.

Seven other airlines have already pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme: Cargolux, Air France, KLM, Martinair, Qantas, British Airways, and Korean Air.

The bureau said the investigation has netted $24 million in fines to date and is ongoing.

"These types of agreements represent one of the most egregious forms of anti-competitive behaviour," said competition commissioner John Pecman.

Under the Competition Act, price fixing carries a maximum penalty of $25 million and/or 14 years in prison, but the air cargo case was prosecuted under older provisions that allow for a maximum fine of $10 million and/or five years in prison.

The bureau said it learned of the price fixing scheme through companies that came forward under the agency's immunity and leniency programs, which lessen the criminal liability of those who reveal information about wrongdoing and co-operate with the bureau's investigation.