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Sees U.S. Approval for Sale of Pacific Routes : Pan Am Expects OK on United Deal

Times Staff Writer

The chairmen of Pan American World Airways and United Airlines said here Tuesday that they expect President Reagan and the U.S. Transportation Department to approve by September United’s planned purchase of Pan Am’s Pacific routes.

C. Edward Acker, Pan Am’s chairman, denied that the Justice Department has described the $750-million transaction as anti-competitive, although he said the department has suggested “certain areas that should be looked at in terms of the overall consideration by the Department of Transportation.”

With United Chairman Richard J. Ferris at his side, Acker said the two airlines felt that the Justice Department report was “a positive document.”

Both executives, who have been here two days to consult with Japanese officials, said they expect approval of the transaction as early as September, though the Department of Transportation is not required to issue a ruling until Oct. 24 and the President is not required to act until 60 days after that.

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Acker and Ferris sidestepped questions about possible opposition to the sale from Japan Airlines and the Japanese government.

They said that a U.S.-Japan aviation agreement specifies that Japan must allow any carrier designated by the U.S. government to fly approved routes.

Although neither Japan Airlines nor the Japanese government has publicly opposed Pan Am’s sale of its Pacific routes to United, newspapers here have reported that both are concerned that United’s extensive routes in the United States would give it an unfair advantage over Japan Airlines in attracting transpacific passengers.

Acker and Ferris attempted to counter those fears by pointing out that United carries only 3% of the passengers traveling between the United States and Japan, and that, even with Pan Am’s 14% share, would still fall short of Northwest Airlines’ 24% share and JAL’s 40%.

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