The Justice Department said it is willing to settle its antitrust lawsuit over the proposed merger between US Airways and American Airlines. However, the government is asking for the carriers to divest valuable slots at Reagan National. "The government is asking for a lot and the parties want to give up as little as possible," said Herbert Hovenkamp, an antitrust expert.
Tom Horton, the CEO of American Airlines, said the carrier is open to settlement talks with the Justice Department. "If there's a reasonable settlement, I think it's better for both sides" than taking the case to trial, he said.
Several union leaders from the airline industry have thrown their support behind the proposed merger between US Airways and American Airlines, and say the Justice Department should allow the merger to proceed. "By moving to block this merger, the DOJ wants to maintain the status quo, leaving consumers with limited choices and US Airways and American with a severe disadvantage in attracting more customers," write union officials Roger Holmin and Gary Hummel.
More than 100,000 US Airways and American Airlines employees are uncertain of their status after the Justice Department blocked a merger between the carriers. Unions representing workers at both carriers are urging the department to let the merger proceed. "We are certain that our proposed merger is the best path forward for both airlines and all of our stakeholders," said US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr.
The Obama administration said it did not play a role in the Justice Department's decision to file a suit to block the American Airlines-US Airways merger. "That was an independent enforcement action that was taken by the Department of Justice, and I don't have anything to add to their" conclusion, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.