American, US Airways mounting fight to beat DOJ merger lawsuit
American Airlines and US Airways want to get the show on the road in their fight with the U.S. Justice Department, which last week sued to block an $11 billion merger of the two airlines.
On Thursday, the airlines’ lawyers filed a motion requesting a trial date be set for Nov. 12 -- about three months sooner than the Justice Department’s proposed trial date.
“We are eager to show that the DOJ’s action would deny millions of customers access to a more competitive airline that will offer customers what they want, delivering significant benefits to consumers, communities and employees,” said Doug Parker, US Airways chief executive who would become CEO of the proposed, combined company.
The move comes as officials and business leaders in at least three states have begun mounting a campaign urging some state attorneys general to drop support of the Justice Department’s lawsuit.
Six state attorneys general supported the antitrust lawsuit, filed Aug. 13. Those state law enforcement officials are from states, such as Texas, where the airlines are headquartered or have large airport hubs.
The Forth Worth and Dallas chambers of commerce earlier this week wrote a letter to Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott urging the Republican to drop his support of the suit.
“American Airlines has been a corporate powerhouse in our state since 1979,” the joint letter said.
“We strongly believe this merger will benefit our economy and continue to grow jobs and industry in the state of Texas. The alternative is substantial economic uncertainty in our region and the state. We respectfully ask that you reconsider your opposition on this matter.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez this week called on U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to withdraw the lawsuit. Miami-Dade County includes the city of Miami, where American Airlines is a major employer.
“American Airlines is a vitally important part of our work force,” Gimenez said. “It’s vitally important that American be allowed to come out of bankruptcy and expand their footprint.”
As my colleague Hugo Martín reported this month, lawyers representing the airlines are eager to duke it out in court with Justice Department attorneys.
“They got this one wrong,” said Rich Parker, a lawyer for the airlines and partner at O’Melveny & Myers. “They got this one very wrong.”
The airlines also aren’t keen on negotiating a settlement.
Paul Denis, a partner at the Philadelphia-based Dechert law firm, who also represents the airlines, said,"We are litigating this case, period.”
But, if “the government has a creative alternative, we will listen,” he later said.
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