The Justice Department says it is investigating “possible unlawful coordination” by several major airline carriers. American, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines have all confirmed receiving letters from the Justice Department.
In a statement, American said the department “seeks documents and information from the last two years that are related to statements and decisions about airline capacity.”
A United spokesman said the company is complying fully in regard to the probe.
The story was first reported by The Associated Press, which notes that the investigation “appears to focus on whether airlines illegally signaled to each other how quickly they would add new flights, routes and extra seats.”
At this point it would probably surprise most travelers to find out that the air carriers aren’t supposed to be colluding. They move in sync like a school of fish when it comes to pricing, so it’s not difficult to believe they are communicating on the above-mentioned issues.
It’s so bad right now that Chuck Schumer is pretending to be a fan of marketplace competition:
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement, “It’s hard to understand, with jet fuel prices dropping by 40 percent since last year, why ticket prices haven’t followed. We know that when airlines merge, there’s less price competition. What we need now is a top-to-bottom review to ensure consumers aren’t being hurt by industry changes.”
There is still plenty of competition in the airline industry. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of taxes and arbitrary fees that have almost nothing to do with the actual cost of a flight. It’s government interference that makes things expensive in the first place, so more of it can’t really help.