WASHINGTON (AP) — American Airlines and US Airways say that the government’s opposition to their planned merger shows that it doesn’t understand the airline industry.
The airlines said in court filings late Tuesday that the U.S. Justice Department’s analysis of the merger ignores competition that now exists from low-cost carriers such as Southwest. American says that the government instead relies on “anecdotes involving small numbers of passengers” and an idealized but outdated vision of the industry.
A trial on the government’s lawsuit is scheduled to begin Nov. 25 in Washington.
The airlines raised familiar arguments in the filings to support the merger. They said that it would offer customers more flight options and improve competition by creating a stronger rival to the nation’s biggest carriers, United and Delta.
The Justice Department and several states sued last month to block the merger, which would create the world’s biggest airline. The government said the merger of American parent AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Inc. would reduce competition and lead to higher prices. It also said the combined carrier would have too much power at Reagan National Airport outside Washington.
The airlines complain that the government did not block several other airline mergers in the past decade. The Justice Department considers that irrelevant. The government says American and US Airways are doing well enough to succeed without merging, which the airlines say is a shortsighted view. US Airways says that the two companies lost $13.7 billion in the last 12 years.
The airlines had until Tuesday to file responses to the latest version of the government’s lawsuit.