The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Monday filed a response [text, PDF] to public comments in defense of the December antitrust settlement that allowed the merger of American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc, forming American Airlines Group, Inc. The 51-page report, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website], argues that objections to the merger by consumer groups are without merit. Pursuant to 15 USC §16 (b)-(h) [text], DOJ antitrust remedies must be vetted in public comments and approved by a federal judge before being finalized. US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is presiding over the review. The DOJ's filing defended the remedy as a "major victory for American consumers" that "will enable Low Cost Carriers ('LCC's) to fly millions of new passengers per year to destinations throughout the country." The filing cited newly obtainable airline slot and gate access at Reagan National Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Dallas Love Field. Lastly, the DOJ argues the remedy for the divested LCC slots valued at $425 million is unprecedented in the airline industry and among the most substantial merger remedies in any industry.
The proposed US Airways and American Airlines Merger [JURIST backgrounder] was first announced in February 2013. Last month JURIST Guest Columnist Laura Gallagher of the UC Davis School of Law argued [JURIST op-ed] the nature of the airline industry makes it desirable for large airlines to merge without raising serious monopoly concerns. In December the US Supreme Court denied [JURIST report] an application to stay the merger of American Airlines and US Airways without an opinion. In November the DOJ announced [JURIST report] a settlement of the antitrust lawsuit opposing the airline merger.