A federal lawsuit to stop the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways could be good for penny-pinching fliers.
The legal challenge file in August by the U.S. Department of Justice says the deal to create the world’s largest carrier would cut competition and lead to higher fares.
Until the lawsuit is settled or won by either side, don’t expect the two airlines to hike fares and give federal authorities more reason to fight the merger, said Rick Seaney, chief executive of the fare monitoring site Farecompare.com.
“It’s highly unlikely that they will initiate or go along with any fare hike,” he said.
Other airlines can raise fares on their own, but hikes are usually revoked unless all of the major carriers match the increase, he noted. “They all basically have to come up as a group,” Seaney said.
And so far this year, fare increases have been few.
For the first nine months of 2013, there have been only two fare hikes that have been matched by all the major carriers. At the same time last year, six fare hikes, ranging from $4 to $20 per round trip, had been adopted by all the major carriers.
Domestic air fares have increased 1% so far this year, compared to the same time last year.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in a Washington, D.C., courtroom starting Nov. 25.
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