Amer­i­can Air­lines, US Air­ways Re­spond to DOJ Law­suit

Business Traveler (USA) - - IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT -

In sep­a­rate re­sponses filed in Septem­ber, Amer­i­can Air­lines and US Air­ways dis­puted claims in the Depart­ment of Jus­tice law­suit that seeks to block the merger of the two air­lines. In the court pa­pers, the car­ri­ers de­fended their merger as pro-com­pet­i­tive and said the gov­ern­ment’s chal­lenge showed a lack of knowl­edge of the air­line in­dus­try.

The re­sponse al­leges that the gov­ern­ment’s law­suit “presents no co­her­ent ra­tio­nale sup­port­ing its chal­lenge to the merger,” ac­cord­ing to the fil­ing by AMR, par­ent of Amer­i­can Air­lines. “Rather, it cob­bles to­gether a col­lec­tion of ad hoc con­tentions based on anec­dotes in­volv­ing small num­bers of pas­sen­gers and his­tor­i­cal e-mails and other doc­u­ments ir­rel­e­vant to this trans­ac­tion, while ig­nor­ing the cen­tral facts and eco­nomic re­al­i­ties of to­day’s air­line in­dus­try.”

The car­ri­ers al­lege that DOJ also wanted to treat the pro­posed merger dif­fer­ently from other re­cent merg­ers that it had not op­posed: Delta Air Lines Inc. and North­west Air­lines Inc. in 2008, and United Air­lines Inc. and Con­ti­nen­tal Air­lines Inc. in 2010.

If ap­proved, the merger of US Air­ways and Amer­i­can would cre­ate the largest air­line in the world. In their re­sponses the two car­ri­ers re­peated the ben­e­fits of their merger to em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers, which they have touted since the merger was an­nounced Feb. 13. Share­hold­ers and unions with each com­pany had al­ready blessed the deal and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion had given it the green light.

How­ever, on Aug. 13, in a sur­prise move, Jus­tice at­tor­neys filed suit in US Dis­trict Court in Wash­ing­ton, DC, seek­ing to block the merger out­right rather than force con­ces­sions. In re­sponse to a mo­tion by the air­lines to set an ex­pe­dited trial date, US Dis­trict Judge Colleen Kol­lar-Kotelly is set to hear the case Nov. 25.

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