Department of Justice Investigates Major US Airlines’ Prices

August 20, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. conspire /kənˈspaɪər/ (v.) – to secretly agree to do something wrong with another party
Example: The group conspired to rob the store.

2. suspect /səˈspɛkt/ (v.) – to believe that someone did something wrong even with little proof or evidence
Example: The police suspected that the man was the thief.

3. dominate /ˈdɒm əˌneɪt/  (v.) – to rule or control
Example: The company plans to dominate the market by improving the quality of its products.

4. merger /ˈmɜr dʒər/ (n.) – a combination of two or more corporations or businesses into one
Example: The merger of the two companies will take place next month.

5. route /rut/ (n.) – a course or way for travel or passage
Example: The quickest route to the next city is by train.


Read the text below.
The US Department of Justice is investigating several airlines that are allegedly conspiring to keep their ticket prices high.

According to the Associated Press, the Department suspects that some US airlines purposefully limit their number of routes and seats so they can continue charging passengers higher prices. The airlines that are currently under investigation are American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.

According to experts, more than 80% of the seats in the domestic travel market are currently dominated by American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. These four airlines have acquired the majority of the domestic market because of the mergers that began in 2008.

Reports revealed that these airlines earned more money by removing routes that were deemed unprofitable and by filling in their available seats. However, the four airlines made no effort to offer more available seats between January 2010 and 2015. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that this has resulted in a 13-percent increase in the average domestic airfare within the said period.

United Airlines, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines confirmed that they have received a notice of investigation from the Department of Justice. These airlines pledged to comply with all of the department’s requests. Delta Airlines, however, did not make any comment about the matter.

For the past two years, these and other airlines in the United States have generated a total of $19.7 billion in profit. This year, they are estimated to earn more because of cheaper jet fuel.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How should the airlines be punished if the accusations were proven to be true?
·         How do you think the department’s accusations will affect the airlines’ sales?

Discussion B

·         Do you think most companies cheat or deceive their customers to make more profit?
·         How can companies earn the trust of their customers?

August 20, 2015