After Settling Lawsuit, Is SouthWest Helping Plaintiffs Fight Other Carriers?

The suite alleged that Southwest and other airlines colluded to keep airfares high. But Southwest settled, agreeing to pay $15 million.

By Alain StephensJanuary 8, 2018 2:01 pm, , ,

Airlines have been posting record profits over the past few years, thanks it part to lower fuel prices. But some allege the industry has been doing a little to well. A class action lawsuit against Delta, United, Southwest and American alleges the carriers colluded to limit seating choices and increase ticket prices. Dallas-based Southwest settled claims against it, but that’s not the end of the story. Southwest, which didn’t admit guilt, is lending a hand to plaintiffs who are continuing their suits against other airlines.

The lawsuit, which began in 2015, alleges that the airlines worked together to keep prices high by reducing the number of seats available overall. That’s called “air capacity.”

Conor Shine, an aviation reporter at the Dallas Morning News, says that when it was revealed that the Department of Justice was looking into these charges, dozens of airline customers filed class action lawsuits against the airlines.

Shine says the airlines’ alleged collusion was accomplished through signals the companies delivered during earnings calls and in public statements about the need to keep cost and capacity down.

In addition to agreeing to pay $15 million, Southwest has cooperated with plaintiffs by making executives available for interviews, and by providing documents the plaintiffs are requesting.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.