American-US Airways anticipate in-depth DOJ talks in "weeks"

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American Airlines and US Airways anticipate entering in-depth talks with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) within "weeks", says American senior vice-president of government and regulatory affairs Will Ris.

The talks are critical to receiving antitrust approval for the carriers' proposed merger, which they still anticipate by September, says Ris on the sidelines of the Phoenix International Aviation Symposium in Phoenix today.

He says that the carrier's have held preliminary talks with the DOJ since submitting their initial application on 31 January. They received a request for additional information from the department in March.

DOJ approval is considered the only possible sticking point for American and US Airways' proposed merger. The airlines claim that the combination will improve competition and benefit the public by creating a carrier of comparable size to Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

Slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport could be an issue. American and US Airways claim that they will not have to give up slots but other carriers, including JetBlue Airways, are pushing for them to relinquish some slot pairs in order to boost competition at the airport.

"Anyone who is seeking slots at National would not be providing service to the small and medium [size] cities that the new American would serve," says Ris.