If you fly frequently or even occasionally, you’ve probably noticed that there are fewer major airlines and bargains on ticket prices are tougher to find, even with a host of websites that help consumers sift through the best deals.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether what’s going on is normal business or something illegal, such as airlines colluding to slow their growth as part of an effort to keep airfares high.
“We are investigating possible unlawful coordination by some airlines,” a spokeswoman for the agency told CBS News. She declined to comment further, including which airlines are being investigated.
But American, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines have all confirmed receiving letters from the Justice Department.
In a statement, American said the department “seeks documents and information from the last two years that are related to statements and decisions about airline capacity.”
The government has requested information from all the airlines as part of the antitrust review, which seems to focus on whether airlines illegally communicated to each other how quickly they would add new flights, routes and extra seats.
A trade group representing carriers, Airlines in America, said that competition is thriving in the air travel business.
“We are confident that the Justice Department will find what we know to be true: Our members compete vigorously every day, and the traveling public has been the beneficiary, as the DOT’s own data shows that domestic fares are down in 2015,” the group said in a statement. “It is customers who decide pricing, voting every day with their wallets on what they value and are willing to pay for.”