| WASHINGTON, Sept 10
WASHINGTON, Sept 10 US Airways defended its
proposed merger with American Airlines on Tuesday, arguing that
the deal would create $500 million in savings to consumers
annually by building a stronger competitor to Delta Air Lines
Inc and United Continental.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Aug. 13 to stop
the $11 billion deal between US Airways Group and
American's parent AMR Corp. The government argues the
merger would violate antitrust laws because it would lead to
higher airfares and related fees.
In November, a judge will hear the case without a jury and
decide whether the merger should go forward.
US Airways, in a filing Tuesday evening, argued that the
deal was lawful and should be allowed to go forward.
"Conservative estimates place the net benefits to consumers at
more than $500 million annually," the company wrote in its
US Airways accused the Justice Department of ignoring the
rise of small, aggressive low-cost carriers such as JetBlue
Airways and Spirit Airlines, saying that they,
along with Southwest Airlines Co and regional airlines,
now carry 40 percent of U.S. air traffic.
"The demonstrable success of low-cost carriers is a
market-driven response to consumer demand, but the (Justice
Department) complaint inexplicably ignores their profound and
permanent effect on industry competition," US Airways said.
American also weighed in, saying that those opposed to the
deal were "ignoring the realities of the airline industry."
"This transaction, viewed through the lens of the actual
U.S. airline industry today, rather than some idealized vision
of the past, does not violate the antitrust laws," American said
in its 15-page filing. "The airline industry is intensely
competitive today and would remain so after this transaction."
A Justice Department spokeswoman was not available for
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 companies have said that the deal is critical for
American Airlines, whose parent, AMR Corp, has been operating
under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since late 2011.
The case at the U.S. District Court for the District of
Columbia is No. 1:13-cv-12346.