American-US Merger Still Faces Private Antitrust Lawsuit

By Paul Riegler on 16 November 2013
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American Airlines check-in area at JFK

American Airlines check-in area at JFK

While the settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and American Airlines and its merger partner US Airways seemingly clears the way for the two airlines to combine, a private antitrust suit seeking to block the merger has yet to be settled.

In August 2013, a group of airline passengers and travel agents asked a federal court to stop the merger in Carolyn Fjord, et al. v. AMR Corporation.

The suit alleges that the merger would be a violation of the Clayton Antitrust Act and that American Airlines CEO Tom Horton and US Airways CEO Doug Parker met secretly to discuss fare increases, citing its contention that “prices were increased by $4 to $10 on roundtrip domestic flights” by American and US Airways as well as Delta and Southwest as well as the April 2013 increase in a ticket change fee from $150 to $200 by the same airlines.

On Wednesday, the plaintiffs asked to schedule a pre-trial conference to discuss the status of a potential trial on Monday, November 18, a move opposed by American on Friday.

Bankruptcy Court Judge Sean Lane has already set a November 25 hearing to review the airlines’ settlement with the Department of Justice and issue a ruling on whether the deal is consistent enough with American’s plan of reorganization to allow the airline to emerge from bankruptcy.

In its filing, American urged Judge Lane to “reject outright the Plaintiffs’ attempt to bull-rush the Court to obtain a trial date 2-3 weeks from today and in such a manner as to operate as a de facto injunction against Defendants’ consummation of the merger.”

American asked Judge Lane not to allow the suit delay the airline’s exit from bankruptcy and its simultaneous merger with US Airways.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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