More airlines settle collusion lawsuit

More airlines settle collusion lawsuit
Thai Airway International

Thai Airways International is likely to pay out compensation this year as part of the settlements on a class-action lawsuit involving collusion on airline ticket sales, as the case is coming to an end.

US law firms Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy and Hausfeld announced on Monday that three more airlines had decided to settle the class-action suit, boosting the settlement fund to US$39.5 million (S$54.7 million).

In late 2013, THAI was one of five airlines - Japan Airlines International, Air France, Vietnam Airlines and Malaysian Airline System - that agreed to a settlement of $22.2 million.

The airlines will have to pay the sum once a Californian court approves the settlements this year.

According to the law firms, the fund will be distributed to passengers who bought tickets for travel across the Pacific since 2000.

"Settlements have been reached with eight airlines in a class-action lawsuit involving the price of airline tickets.

The settling defendants are: Air France; Cathay Pacific; Japan Airlines; Malaysia Airlines; Qantas; Singapore Airlines; Thai Airways; and Vietnam Airlines.

The lawsuit continues against five non-settling defendant airlines: Air New Zealand; All Nippon Airways (ANA); China Airlines (Taiwan); EVA Airways; and Philippines Airlines," the law firms said in a statement.

They also vowed to pursue the lawsuit against the other airlines that have failed to settle.

Philippine Airlines, Air New Zealand, ANA and Cathay Pacific Airways have claimed that the plaintiffs have not proven that the proposed settlement classes meet US federal commonality requirements.

The suit was brought in 2007 against 26 airlines, alleged of fixing prices on tickets for trans-Pacific air travel. As a result, ticket purchasers may have paid more than was necessary.

This affected those who bought a ticket for air travel from one of those 26 airlines. To be eligible for refund, the bought tickets must include one flight segment between the US and Asia or Oceania.

According to the plaintiffs' law firms, a federal court in California will hold a hearing in this case on May 22, to consider whether to approve the settlements. If it does, the fund will be then distributed to the purchasers of the tickets in question.

According to the law firms, to be eligible for the fund, purchasers will need to submit a claim form online or by mail.

The earliest deadline to file a claim is September 19, 2015, but they will have until 120 days after the settlements become final and effective to file a claim.

Purchasers who do not file a claim within a specified period will not get a payment and will give up the right to sue. Purchasers who want to keep the right to sue the defendants must exclude themselves from the settlement by April 17.

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