BA and Virgin Atlantic to pay out millions in fuel surcharge settlement

Millions of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic passengers in Britain and the US will be entitled to refunds of surcharges on fares under a deal proposed to settle a multi-million pound lawsuit.

The case in the US District Court for the Northern District of California follows BA’s admission it colluded with Virgin Atlantic in setting fuel surcharges on long-haul fares between August 2004 and March 2006.

The carriers have agreed to pay out £73.5 million in the UK and $59 million in the US. BA will stump up the lion’s share as it carried more passengers.

BA has already paid fines in excess of £270 million imposed by the Office of Fair Trading and US Department of Justice. Virgin Atlantic escaped any penalty after blowing the whistle on the collusion and providing evidence.

Assuming the Court ratifies the settlement, it will appoint an assessor to handle claims. Passengers will be entitled to receive one-third of the fuel surcharge on long-haul tickets bought during the period.

Refunds will vary between £2 and £10 per flight.

A BA spokesman said: “This involves perhaps 11 million tickets – seven million in the UK and four million in the US.”

It is estimated Virgin Atlantic will face claims on up to one million tickets. One Advantage member has estimated the agency’s claim is in excess of £20,000.

A Virgin spokesman said the settlement drew a line ­under the affair and BA chief executive Willie Walsh said: “BA can now move on.”

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