WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The District of Columbia, with the U.S. Justice Department and six states, has sued to block the proposed merger of US Airways and American Airlines, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan announced today. The joint complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that allowing this merger to create the world’s largest airline would likely harm competition and consumers in violation of federal antitrust law.
The proposed merger would leave the United States with only four major airlines: U.S. Airways/American, United/Continental, Delta/Northwest, and Southwest. As recently as 2005, the U.S. had nine major airlines. According to the complaint, this trend toward industry consolidation, which the merger would continue, has made it easier for airlines to raise prices, impose baggage and other fees, and reduce service.
Washington Reagan National Airport requires airlines to have a government-issued “slot” for each takeoff or landing. The proposed merger would increase the percentage of slots owned by a single airline from the 55% now owned by U.S. Airways to the 69% that would be owned by the combined airline. A likely effect of this increase in slot concentration, the complaint alleges, would be to prevent competing airlines from introducing new or expanded service at Reagan National Airport.
“Reagan National Airport provides a unique and important service for D.C. consumers and should not be dominated by any one airline,” Attorney General Nathan said. “D.C. consumers will benefit from more local airline competition, not less.”
Ted Gest, Public Information Officer