American-US Air Merger Suffers Additional Setbacks

By Paul Riegler on 10 October 2013
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American Airlines' new and old livery

American Airlines’ new and old livery

The planned merger between American Airlines and US Airways suffered several setbacks Thursday after the airlines’ requests for documents and information from the Department of Justice were rejected.

A special master tasked with overseeing some pretrial portions of the suit filed in August rejected the airlines’ motion for access to DOJ materials about the department’s review of recent airline mergers that received antitrust approval.

The special master, Richard Levie, a retired judge, also turned down the airlines’ request to require the department to turn over information about which third parties it had interviewed in the course of deciding whether to challenge the AA-US Airways merger.

The airlines argued that the DOJ is using different standards in evaluating their merger than those used in previous combinations.  They also contend that access to the DOJ materials from past antitrust reviews would help them demonstrate that their merger would be good for competition if evaluated using the same models that were previously employed.

The DOJ argued that its actions in past airline merger cases were not relevant and should not be able to be used as a defense in the current merger.

In his report to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the special master wrote that, while the government materials were relevant to the airlines’ defense, they were also protected from disclosure because they involved internal Department of Justice deliberations.  He did order that the department turn over one document to the defense without specifying the document involved.

In a second report, the special master found that the identities of third parties interviewed by the Department of Justice was information protected from disclosure, noting that the airlines had not demonstrated a significant need for the information.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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