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American Airlines-US Airways merger: Lawmakers oppose slot divestitures

May 29, 2013 1:19 am

Skift Take

Does one sniff a big US Airways-American Airlines lobbying effort under way? Although the merger would enhance the new American Airlines’ dominant position at Reagan National, lawmakers obviously don’t want to mess with their flights home. Shocking (not).

— Dennis Schaal

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Larry Downing  / Reuters

A U.S. Airways jet departs Washington's Reagan National Airport next to an American Airlines jet outside Washington, February 25, 2013. Larry Downing / Reuters


Over 100 members of Congress have asked U.S. regulators to allow American Airlines and US Airways Group to keep all their airport slots at Reagan National Airport outside Washington D.C. if the companies’ planned merger is approved.

Representatives Mike Michaud, a Maine Democrat; John Duncan, a Tennessee Republican; and 104 bipartisan colleagues argued to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Attorney General Eric Holder that requiring divestiture of slots would mean fewer flights to smaller cities like Bangor and Portland, Maine.

“Other airlines lack the necessary connectivity out of Reagan National and would be more likely to transfer any divested slots to larger cities and more lucrative routes,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was dated May 28.

The companies have been lobbying the Transportation Department and Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, both of which must approve the transaction, to allow the deal to advance with no asset sales.

US Airways, which has long coveted American, announced on February 14 that it planned to buy the struggling carrier for $11 billion.

Antitrust experts have said the Justice Department could request divestitures of some of US Airways’ slots at Reagan National and a small number of other airports. Outside these hubs the carriers fly different routes for the most part.

Reagan National is used regularly by many members of Congress to fly to and from their home districts.

Michaud lives in East Millinocket, Maine, about 65 miles north of Bangor, which is served by direct US Airways flights from Reagan National.

If approved, the American-US Airways deal would be the third major U.S. airline merger since 2008.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz, editing by Ros Krasny and Richard Chang)

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