WASHINGTON, Sept 20 US Airways and American
Airlines, whose proposed merger has been stalled by U.S.
government opposition, urged a court on Friday to require the
Justice Department to turn over documents relating to its
approval of four previous airline mergers.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Aug. 13 to stop
the planned merger of US Airways and American's parent,
AMR Corp, arguing that the deal would lead to higher
air fares and other fees. A judge will hear the case without a
jury in November and decide whether the deal can go forward.
The airlines have said that the merger is needed to help
them compete in a rapidly consolidating industry.
In their motion, US Airways and American asked for analyses,
studies, forecasts and other documents relating to the Justice
Department's approval of the four mergers completed over the
Delta Air Lines Inc acquired Northwest Airlines in
2008, United merged with Continental in 2010 and
Southwest Airlines Co bought discount rival AirTran in
2011. US Airways bought America West in 2005.
Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said that the
agency would reply formally to the motion next week.
The motion for the material, which could be quite extensive,
will likely be granted, said Robert Skitol, an antitrust expert
with Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.
"There's no doubt about it being very burdensome," said
Skitol. "This is very resource-intensive."
Previously, the government had said the request was too
broad, and that data on previous mergers not relevant to this
The airlines and the Justice Department could settle the
antitrust lawsuit, which would likely require the companies to
sell certain assets. Any divestitures would require approval
from the judge overseeing American's emergence from bankruptcy.
The airlines have defended the deal in court filings, saying
it would create $500 million in savings to consumers annually by
building a stronger competitor to Delta and United.
In its complaint, the Justice Department focused on Ronald
Reagan National Airport, just outside Washington, D.C., where
the two companies control a combined 69 percent of takeoff and
landing slots. It also listed more than 1,000 routes between two
cities where the two airlines dominate the market.
The case at the U.S. District Court for the District of
Columbia is No. 1:13-cv-12346.