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Four major airlines sued over alleged price-fixing scheme

By Shaun Zinck | Jul 27, 2015

American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines are all being sued in a class action claiming the four airlines conspired with each other to fix prices of flights within the United States. | Shutterstock

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - Four major American airline companies are being sued over allegations they conspired to fix prices for flights within the United States.

Kathryn Lavin filed the lawsuit July 2 in U.S. District Court in California against American, Delta, Southwest and United airlines.

The lawsuit claims the price-fixing began no later than July 2, 2011. The four airlines control about 80 percent of the market for domestic air passenger seats.

“During that period, they have taken steps to limit capacity growth in order to keep air fares artificially high,” the lawsuit said. “The four defendant airlines also began collecting new ancillary fees, such as $25 each way to check a bag and $200 to change a reservation.”

The suit added the average price for a domestic airline flight rose about 13 percent between 2009 and 2014. Jet fuel has gone down this year, the airlines are now paying about $1.94 per gallon, which is a decrease of 34 percent from 2014, the suit says.

“One would expect that in a competitive industry, airfares would decrease as a result, while airlines sought to obtain greater market shares,” the lawsuit said. “That has not happened.”

The lawsuit seeks class status for those who purchased domestic flights from the airlines within the last four years. The suit also seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Lavin is represented by Michael P. Lehman, Bonny E. Sweeney and Christopher L. Lebsock of Hausfeld LLP in San Francisco and Michael D. Hausfeld and Hilary K. Scherrer of the same law firm in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case number 3:15-cv-03090.

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