Published on Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Price-fixing lawsuit filed against four transatlantic airlines

Reports from the US have confirmed that two Americans have filed a price-fixing lawsuit against four major transatlantic air carriers accusing them of using fuel surcharges to wrongfully inflate prices.

The suit was filed in New York Federal Court late on Friday and charges British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and United Airlines of conspiring conspired to fix passenger ticket prices, partly through the use of fuel surcharges.

Susan Saldana of Newton, Massachusetts and Ian Reynell of Chicago, Illinois, claim BA has added at least six fuel surcharges since May 2004, conspiring with the other airlines to artificially inflate ticket prices.

The New York Federal Court was filed just days after the Office of Fair Trading visited BA’s offices as part of a civil and criminal investigation into alleged price coordination.

The US Department of Justice confirmed last Thursday that it was investigating possible anti-competitive practices in airline passenger fares and cargo shipments, but it did not identify which airlines were under investigation.

American Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic all said last week they were involved in the probe, but were not direct targets.

The plaintiffs are demanding reimbursement and damages against the airlines, and seeking class action status for their suit, which would include all travellers who bought transatlantic tickets with the airlines named in the suit over the last four years.

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