WASHINGTON, June 18 Two U.S. lawmakers with
antitrust oversight have urged the Obama administration to
carefully review a planned merger of American Airlines
and US Airways Group to ensure that it will
not lead to higher prices for air travelers.
US Airways announced on Feb. 14 that it planned to buy
American Airlines parent AMR Corp, which is restructuring in
bankruptcy court. The airlines are looking to complete the deal
by the end of September.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Judiciary
Committee's antitrust subcommittee, and Mike Lee, the top
Republican on the panel, said the deal would mean the top four
U.S. airlines would control nearly 90 percent of the U.S.
The pair acknowledged in the letter, dated Tuesday, that
there could be efficiencies associated with the deal but also
noted concern that flight costs could go up or customer service
"We anticipate that your analysis will include, as it
should, a careful examination of whether divestiture of slots at
Reagan National (Airport) is necessary to ensure that consumers
continue to benefit from robust competition at this airport,"
the lawmakers added.
The letter was addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Both the Justice and
Transportation Departments must approve the proposed deal.
Antitrust experts have said the Justice Department could
request divestitures of some of slots at Reagan National and a
small number of other airports. Outside these hubs the carriers
fly different routes for the most part.
In late May, more than 100 members of Congress asked U.S.
regulators to allow a combined American Airlines and US Airways
Group to keep all their airport slots at Reagan National near
Washington D.C. if the merger is approved.
Representatives Mike Michaud, a Maine Democrat, John Duncan,
a Tennessee Republican, and over 100 bipartisan colleagues
argued that slot sales would cut service to smaller cities.
Reagan National is used regularly by many members of Congress
to fly to and from their home districts.