The Texas attorney general has dropped his challenge to the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways in exchange for various service commitments.
The combined carrier has committed to maintaining service at 22 Texas airports, including rural airfields San Angelo and Wichita Falls, and to keeping its headquarters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for at least three years, according to a joint statement.
“From the beginning, our focus has been on maintaining service to rural airports in Texas and protecting Texas jobs,” says attorney general Greg Abbott. “Today’s agreement ensures that thousands of jobs will remain in Texas and that Texans traveling by air – especially those who fly in and out of rural cities across the state, including members of the military – will continue to benefit from daily flight service.”
Tom Horton, chairman and chief executive of American, adds: “This is an important step forward for American Airlines, for Texas, and for our customers and people of both American and US Airways.”
With the agreement, Texas has dropped its participation in the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) challenge the merger. The case is scheduled to go to trial in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on 25 November.
Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington DC are still challenging the merger along with the federal agency.
Horton says that he would "like to think this is a template for discussions" with other attorney generals regarding dropping their suits but declines to comment on whether American or US Airways is in discussions with any other states.
Asked why Texas joined the DOJ’s lawsuit to begin with, Abbott says that there were “uncertainties” stemming from previous airline mergers about maintaining service to small airports and where the headquarters would be.
American and US Airways have said since they announced their combination in February that the merged company would be based in Texas and that it would maintain all of the airlines’ existing service.