U.S. probing possible collusion by airlines to keep fares high

July 1, 2015, 6:50 PM UTC
A Delta Air Lines plane taxis toward a gate between other De
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: A Delta Air Lines plane taxis toward a gate between other Delta planes at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, U.S., on Monday, July 20, 2009. Delta Air Lines Inc., based in Atlanta since 1941, is promoting itself as New York city's "hometown carrier" with mojitos in Manhattan and sponsorships of the Yankees and Mets baseball teams. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Photograph by Daniel Acker — Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Justice Department is investigating whether U.S. airlines are working together to keep ticket prices high, spokeswoman Emily Pierce said on Wednesday.

The Associated Press, which broke the story, said that the department was trying to determine whether the airlines were colluding to grow slowly in a bid to keep airfares high.

“We are investigating possible unlawful coordination by some airlines,” said Pierce in a statement.

As a result of a series of mergers starting in 2008, American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), Southwest Airlines (LUV) and United Airlines (UAL) now control more than 80% of the seats in U.S. skies, the AP reported.

Those airlines have cut unprofitable flights, filled a higher percentage of seats on planes, and have worked to slow growth in order to command higher airfares, said the AP.