Court fight over Los Angeles airport shops prompts charge of inflated bottled water prices

MarketsAssociated Press

A court fight over retail operations at one of the nation's busiest airports led to a charges Friday that passengers are being gouged on bottled water prices.

Legal papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by boutique retailer Kitson Stores said Hudson Group, which operates many shops at Los Angeles International Airport, is exploiting travelers with "hugely" inflated water prices.

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The two sides have been exchanging accusations over business operations and licensing arrangements at the airport, which attracts 70 million travelers annually.

Kitson says New Jersey-based Hudson refused to sell bottled water at the airport's two Kitson shops it operates at $2.55 for a liter. Instead, Hudson charges consumers $5 a bottle at the stores, the court filing said.

Kitson argues that Hudson is trying to force its stores out of the airport because of the friction over water prices.

"Water is one of the most basic necessities for travelers and Hudson is taking advantage of the post- 9-11 airport restrictions" by inflating water prices, Kitson attorney Steven Bledsoe said in a telephone interview. "We believe that Hudson has breached its contracts with Kitson and has no right to close the Kitson stores."

A Hudson attorney did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.