American and US Airways seek US govt files on previous mergers

Washington DC
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American Airlines and US Airways are seeking all of the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) factual records on the four US airline mergers since 2005, in a court filing today.

The carriers claim that the records are important to their case because of the DOJ’s about face rejecting their proposed merger while the previous deals were allowed, in a filing with the US District Court for the District of Columbia today. They are not requesting the agency's internal deliberations or legal analyses of the deals.

The four previous deals are: US Airways-America West Airlines in 2005, Delta Air Lines-Northwest Airlines in 2008, and Southwest Airlines-AirTran Airways and United Airlines-Continental Airlines in 2010.

American and US Airways cite the facts that the DOJ said that these four mergers would “enhance competition” when they were approved but now asserts that an American-US Airways combination would “hurt passengers” by causing the same results as these previous deals, in their filing.

“Increasing consolidation among large airlines has hurt passengers,” wrote the agency citing “past experience” in its 13 August challenge to the American-US Airways deal.

It continues: “The major airlines have copied each other in raising fares, imposing new fees on travellers, reducing or eliminating service on a number of city pairs, and downgrading amenities.”

The DOJ calls American and US Airways’ request “unduly burdensome” and says that it “seeks documents that are neither relevant nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence”, in a separate filing with the court today.

District court judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is presiding over the case.