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Mon, Jan 08, 2018

Southwest Airlines Reaches Settlement In Fare Antitrust Case

Accused With Three Other Carriers Conspiring To Raise Fares By Controlling Seat Capacity

Southwest Airlines will pay $15 million to settle an antitrust case while continuing to deny it has done anything wrong.

In the case heard in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Southwest was accused along with Delta, American and United Continental of conspiring to keep prices high by controlling the number of available airline seats. The litigation combined more than 100 private lawsuits brought by passengers against the carriers, according to a report from Fortune magazine.

Southwest said in a statement that it had agreed to the settlement to "avoid the cost and distraction of future litigation."

The other three carriers have also denied that they have done anything wrong, and are continuing their legal battles. On Thursday, American spokesman Matt Miller released a statement saying, “We will continue to defend against the claims, which we believe are without merit.” Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said, “The simple fact is that Delta has not engaged in any illegal behavior.”

United also said through spokeswoman Erin Benson that the claims are without merit, and it will continue to defend itself in court.

The case stems back to early 2009. Passengers filing lawsuits said that the airlines worked together to limit choices in an effort to keep seat prices artificially high. That, combined with lower fuel prices and additional fees led to record profits in the industry that year.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted initial approval of Southwest's settlement last Wednesday, saying it was “sufficiently fair, reasonable and adequate” to justify moving forward.

(Image from file)

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