An interesting story appeared in the Orlando Sentinel yesterday where Carnival Corporation says its fuel surcharges had been approved by the state of Florida in October 2006, according to records reviewed by the paper.
The newspaper reported that records showed that representatives for Carnival Corporation approached Charlie Crist, then the state’s attorney general, looking for approval to charge a fee to help offset surging fuel costs. Crist is now Florida’s governor.
Florida’s current attorney general, Bill McCollum, is investigating whether the fuel surcharges imposed on cruisers by Carnival and other cruise companies violate antitrust laws.
The Orlando Sentinel said that Carnival’s lawyer corresponded with investigators at McCollum’s office that under Crist, the attorney general’s office “expressly approved” the fee 18 months ago, and that Carnival was told “that the approval came from the highest level” of the office.
In the story Carnival said they hope to eliminate the charge once fuel has spent 30 days trading below $70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Light, sweet crude oil closed at $107.01 a barrel Thursday. Last month, Royal Caribbean announced it reached a settlement with the Florida attorney general and agreed to refund $21 million in surcharges to customers charged even after they booked. Carnival says it would forfeit $40 million if they have to refund the surcharge to all previously booked passengers.