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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 18:12 GMT
BA and Virgin to pay out refunds
A Virgin Atlantic plane
Virgin tipped off the authorities that there had been price collusion
People who flew long-haul with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic between 11 August 2004 and 23 March 2006 will be eligible for a refund.

Virgin and BA have reached agreement on a class action suit, which will now have to be approved by US courts.

BA was fined for price-fixing on fuel surcharges while Virgin also admitted breaching the law but escaped a fine.

The refunds will be worth one-third of the fuel surcharge, between about 2 and 10 for each flight.

Claims process

Individuals and businesses that bought a ticket on either airline in the UK or the US will be able to claim refunds.

"Virgin deeply regrets its involvement and believes the provisional settlement draws a line under the episode," a spokesman for the airline said.

DO I QUALIFY?
You may be eligible for a refund of one-third of your fuel surcharge if you bought:
A BA or Virgin long-haul ticket
In the UK or US
Between 11 August 2004 and 23 March 2006
Paid a fuel surcharge
Full details of the claims process will be available in about 60 days

"The US courts still need to approve the refund process, which will take some time, and further details about the claims process will then be announced by an independent claims administrator," he added.

British Airways' chief executive Willie Walsh also said that the settlement would give the airline a chance to move on.

"As we have previously said, we absolutely condemn any anti-competitive activity by anybody," he said.

"This settlement, which British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have jointly agreed with the lawyers for the plaintiffs, is fair and reasonable," he added.

BA shares closed down 4% on Friday at 278.75p

Whistle-blower

The class action suit was brought by the US law firm Cohen Milstein.

Cohen Milstein estimates that the settlement will be worth about $200m (100m), 73.5m of which will be set aside to pay claims by passengers who bought tickets in the UK in pounds sterling.

British Airways aeroplanes' tailfins

BA said that the refunds would be worth between 1 and 11.50 per flight while Virgin said they would be between 2 and 10.

BA was fined 121.5m by the Office of Fair Trading and $300m by the US Department of Justice for colluding with Virgin on the level of fuel surcharges that would be added to their ticket prices.

Virgin escaped the fines because it had informed the authorities that the breaches had happened.


Your comments

I must have flown either Virgin or BA to San Francisco around half a dozen times in that period. It comes as no surprise I've been overcharged because one look at the breakdown of the price of a flight shows that most of the fare is a tax or a surcharge or that ridiculous 9/11 tax. A refund of between a pound and 11.50 per flight doesn't go anywhere near to compensating for the deception all passengers have been the victim of. Try making it one free flight and then see if customer confidence can be regained.
Graham Pratt, Alnwick, Northumberland, United Kingdom

The amounts aren't much, but it's the principle of the matter, so I'll be putting in a claim. I might get a nice dinner out of it, as I travelled to Australia with BA a few times and to New York with Virgin during that period, as well as a couple of short haul European flights. I just hope they make it relatively easy for us to claim a refund as not all of us keep meticulous records of exact dates, places travelled and ticket stubs.
Kim G, London, UK

Disappointed that such reputable companies have been involved in such an act. Had four long haul family holidays with Virgin and despite figure for compensation being offered is appalling, will most certainly make a claim for the same.
S Pye, Southport, England

When you consider both airlines require tickets paid up in full at time of booking they had my money up front 10 months in advance of flights. For a family of four they are already getting interest on customers money prior to departure.
C Scott, Plymouth, Devon England

I wholeheartedly welcome this decision, and I will absolutely be claiming any amount offered. Typically I book flights for the whole family,which numbers four of us, and typically we have to fly from Glasgow Airport to LHR or LGW with BA to connect with another BA flight abroad. This therefore will allow me to claim for perhaps 20 different flight sectors, which will pay for a whole ticket for this summer !!!
Rick MacLeod, Glasgow, Scotland

I have been a Gold Card holder with British Airways for the past 10 years and will be claiming around 200 for overpaid fuel surcharges. I run a business and keep all my used tickets, but how many people would have records of their flight tickets going back to 2004?
Andrew Hill, London, UK

I strongly suspect that the claims process will be both protracted and hard-to-understand for those claiming - in other words, the airlines will rely on inertia and difficulty to put passengers off claiming. In order to avoid this type of accusation, perhaps they should both make a commitment to donating any unclaimed funds to charity after a set cut off date?
Jeremy, Cambridge, UK

I think they should refund the full amount of all fuel duties paid and stop using any way possible to rip off customers. If they cant plan fuel costs correctly then they should take the loss and not pass it on to the consumer.
JD, Sheffield, UK



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Compensation owed to passengers



SEE ALSO
US judge upholds BA's $300m fine
23 Aug 07 |  Business
BA's price-fix fine reaches 270m
01 Aug 07 |  Business
Q&A: BA price-fixing investigation
01 Aug 07 |  Business
BA may face 350m collusion bill
18 May 07 |  Business
BA pair quit amid surcharge probe
09 Oct 06 |  Business
Virgin tip-off 'led to BA probe'
23 Jun 06 |  Business

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