Travelers who flew on eight airlines across the Pacific between 2000 and this year are eligible for benefits from a class action lawsuit involving ticket price-fixing. A lawsuit continues against five more air carriers accused of the same thing.
The case involves tickets purchased from a total of 26 airlines. Settlements have been reached with eight airlines and a lawsuit continues against five more.
The carriers which have settled - Air France, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines - have agreed to refund nearly $40 million.
Attorney Adam Zapala, who has been working on the case, explains it grew out of numerous U.S. government investigations into price-fixing in the air cargo industry.
“Many of the same players in the air passenger industry also are air cargo carriers. In fact a lot of the cargo that's carried day to day throughout the world is carried in the belly of air passenger planes. And there is a very large class action [lawsuit] pending in the eastern district of New York that pertains to the air cargo price-fixing case.
And many of the defendants in that case are defendants in our case, as well,” said Zapala.
Zapala said how much money passengers potentially can get depends on how many of them file applications for claims.
“People will be paid out on a pro rata basis according to the number of flights they had during the period of time. If only 20 percent of the class file claims then that 20 percent of the class will be divvying up the $40 million,” he exaplined.
The attorney said that uncovering price-fixing takes a lot of time and money but hopefully such legal actions dissuade businesses from engaging in this anti-competitive behavior.
The class action suit claims airlines colluded to fix prices on trans-Pacific travel, resulting in passengers paying more than was necessary. The routes involved were between the United States and Asia, Australia, New Zealand and some Pacific islands.
The eight airlines which settled deny the allegation and any liability. Those still being sued - Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways (ANA), China Airlines (of Taiwan), Eva Airways and Philippines Airlines - also deny liability. However, ANA has pled guilty to fixing the prices of certain discounted tickets.
Those who believe they may be eligible for benefits can file a claim form online or by mail. Information on how to do that can be obtained by visiting the website www.AirlineSettlement.com.