Labor Groups to DoJ: Back Off US Air-American Merger

August 22, 2013

A group of transportation labor groups is urging the Department of Justice to drop its opposition to a proposed merger between U.S. Airways and American Airlines.

The AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD) said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday that the DOJ should allow the U.S. Air-American merger to go through because it did not interfere in other recent airline combinations.

“The DOJ’s inaction when Northwest and Delta merged or when United and Continental combined is what led US Airways and American to seek a merger,” TTD President Ed Wytkind wrote. “By combining forces, these airlines are just trying to remain viable competitors in a shrinking competitive landscape that the DOJ allowed to exist.”

The Justice Department is filing a lawsuit with the attorneys general of six states that alleges the proposed merger between the airlines would violate federal antitrust laws.

The DOJ lawsuit argues that U.S. Air and American have too much overlap in their route networks. The airlines have said that only 12 of their nonstop routes are similar, but the Justice Department counters that when connecting flights are counted, the number reaches more than 700.

Wytkind said the merger would help American Airlines emerge from bankruptcy proceedings more quickly, which he said would be good for the members of the unions his group represents at the company.

“Blocking this merger will also interfere with the timely conclusion of the American Airlines bankruptcy proceeding,” Wytkind wrote. “The fact is that without this merger, additional concessions from the American Airlines workforce could be sought — a result that is simply unacceptable given the financial setbacks these employees have already experienced.”

Wytkind added that unionized workers at U.S. Air would also be hurt if the DOJ blocks the proposed merger.

“If this merger does not proceed, both American Airlines and US Airways could once again find themselves in financial peril and the jobs, rights, wages and benefits of front-line workers would likewise be put at serious risk,” he wrote.

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