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Justice Department investigating airline collusion

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether airlines are 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.

Airline shares fell in the wake of the news initially reported by the Associated Press, with Delta and Southwest off almost 5% and American and United down about 4%.

The government has requested information from airlines as part of the antitrust investigation.

As a result of a series of mergers starting in 2008, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United AirlinesĀ  now control more than 80% of the seats in U.S. skies.

Consumer complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding airlines have risen in recent years amid consolidation in the industry, with four large mergers since 2005.

This is a developing story.

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