LAWFUEL – A half billion dollar fine levied on British Airways for collusion over fuel surchargesis likely to lead to a massive damages claim from passengers.
British Airways faces a massive damages claim from millions of passengers after the airline was fined for colluding with its rival Virgin Atlantic over fuel surcharges on tickets.
BA was hit with penalties totalling $550 million by competition authorities in the UK and United States yesterday for holding secret discussions with Virgin over a two-year period.
The company admitted contacting Virgin about raising fuel surcharges on long-haul flights – by sums ranging from £5 to £60 per return ticket – five times between 2004 and 2006, rather than acting independently.
Legal experts said both companies faced paying out millions of pounds to aggrieved customers, with the judgment certain to spark class-action claims. Lawyers said passengers could win up to £165 per return flight from BA and Virgin – three times the total surcharge increase – under the US “triple damages” system. As many as 20 million passengers could be affected.
Consumer campaigners urged passengers to write to the airlines to demand their money back and to consider taking action in the small claims courts.