A federal judge said that the lawsuit filed by the government to block the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways will begin November 25. The timetable is favored by the airlines. The US Justice Department wanted the trial to begin in March so that they can prepare for the case. The airlines said that a long delay would hurt their merger.
US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said that the March court date was too far off. American Airlines and US Airways were close to complete their merger to result into the largest airline in the world. The Justice Department and six states filed a lawsuit to block the deal. They claimed that it would reduce competition and result to higher prices for consumers. The resulting company would be too dominant at Reagan National Airport outside Washington and other routes across the nation.
The hearing before Kollar-Kotelly was purely procedural. It was aimed at establishing timetables for reviewing documents for the trial. But the hearing gave both camps a preview of key arguments. The two airlines said that their merger would increase competition by making a large competitor to United Airlines and Delta Air Lines that grew via recent mergers. Richard Parker, a lawyer representing US Airways Group, said during the hearing that other competitors such as Southwest carry more passengers in the nation than any airline.
The Justice Department said that the proposed merger raised a number of issues such as prices and the impact on some markets. The government wants to ask airline executives about the changes in ticket and baggage costs.
Justice attorney Mark Ryan said it is impossible to accept the claims of the airlines regarding the plan to eliminate some flights in order to make the combined carrier more efficient and save money. He wants the carriers to release details of the plan.
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