A lawsuit filed this month in the Court of the Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan claims WestJet and Air Canada colluded on introducing checked baggage fees.
Both airlines announced that they would introduce the fees on passengers who choose to check their luggage just days apart in 2014, with WestJet introducing the fee on September 15 and Air Canada following three days later on September 18. Both airlines coincidentally set their fees at the same price of $25.00.
The lawsuit alleges that both airlines worked together and that the practice amounts to illegal price-fixing from the duopoly held by the nation’s two largest airlines. It also asserts that no new services or improvements were introduced to passengers as a result of the extra charge.
Spokespersons with WestJet and Air Canada were not able to immediately comment on the allegations, which have not been proven in court.
In the United States, a similar lawsuit was filed against Delta and AirTran Airways alleging that both airlines colluded on a $15.00 checked bag fee just days apart in 2008. Earlier this year, a judge granted the class action suit with the permission it required to proceed.
Airline analysts have long said that Canada’s airline industry is regressive in nature due to a lack of competition. However, there are also other factors that contribute to the high costs of air travel in the country, including the lack of economies of scale with Canada’s wide geographic expanse but relatively small urban centres.
Airports are also required to pay rents to the federal government for the land that their airport facilities sit on, which is a cost that is passed on to airlines and then to passengers.
A recent study by a Czech Republic travel agency found that Canada has the world’s most expensive international flights.