WASHINGTON, Sept 26 The U.S. Justice Department
said on Thursday that US Airways and American Airlines
, whose proposed merger has been stalled by
government opposition, should not get access to internal
analyses prepared in its review of previous airline
The carriers had asked the Justice Department to turn over
documents relating to its approval of four previous airline
mergers done over the past decade.
Those mergers involved the combinations of Delta Air Lines
Inc and Northwest Airlines in 2008, United Airlines
and Continental in 2010, and Southwest Airlines Co
and AirTran in 2011. US Airways bought America West in
The Justice Department responded on Thursday, asking the
special master handling discovery disputes to limit the
documents it must produce to factual materials, such as the
number of overlapping routes owned by the merging carriers.
It objected specifically to the airlines' request for the
Justice Department's extensive internal analyses and forecasts.
"Such confidential assessments and internal deliberations
are plainly privileged and no court has ever ordered similar
disclosures by federal antitrust enforcement officials (or by
state officials), as far as we know," the department said.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Aug. 13 to block
US Airways' merger with American's parent company AMR Corp,
arguing that the deal would lead to higher airfares 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.
The airlines and the Justice Department could also settle
the antitrust lawsuit, which would likely require the companies
to sell off certain assets. Any divestitures would require
approval from the judge overseeing American's emergence from
The airlines have defended the deal in court filings, saying
it would create $500 million in savings to consumers annually by
creating a stronger competitor to Delta and United.
In its complaint, the Justice Department focused on Reagan
National Airport, just outside Washington, D.C., where the two
carriers 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-1236.