August 22. (Argus Media) - Delta Air Lines is asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the company's carbon neutrality claims, saying the suit is barred by federal law covering airline rates and services.
In an 18 August court filing, the company said claims raised by the class action suit are not valid under the 1978 federal Airline Deregulation Act, which removed government control over US airlines' fares, services and routes. Because plaintiff Mayanna Berrin's claims are based on the premium rates she paid for her airline tickets and Delta's alleged bid for a larger market share, the "allegations still clearly implicate Delta's rates and services" which cannot be subject to federal intervention under the law, the company argued in its motion to dismiss the case in the US District Court for the Central District of California.
Delta also claims Berrin has no standing to sue since she faces no threat of "imminent future injury," having claimed she would not have purchased Delta flights or would have paid "substantially less" and has not indicated she will be using the airline in the future.
Berrin filed the lawsuit in May, alleging Delta's claim of being "the world's first carbon-neutral airline" was "misleading" and an example of "green washing" since the company's carbon offset portfolio relied on inaccurate carbon reduction projections, did not result in immediate reductions for the operating year, and that the company was providing subsidies to offset projects that did not require them.
The suit also cites 2020 comments from the airline's chief executive Ed Bastian that offsets are "not really helping our planet" as evidence that Delta knew at the time its marketing campaigns' carbon neutrality claims were false.
The potential class includes anyone who purchased a Delta flight in California on or after March 2020, around when the airline first sketched out its commitment to carbon neutrality.
Both parties have through late October to respond.
Concerns about environmental integrity have led to a variety of private sector initiatives designed to boost standards for offsets. They also prompted regulators, including the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to take a closer look at the market. The agency is currently considering what regulatory steps it should take to address such concerns.