WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it has reached an agreement to allow the merger of US Airways and American Airlines.
The settlement reached Tuesday would require approval by a federal judge in Washington. It would require American and US Airways to give up takeoff and landing rights or slots at Reagan National and New York's LaGuardia Airport and gates at airports in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and two gates at Dallas Love Field to low-cost carriers to offset the impact of the merger.
After operations are scaled back, the combined company expects to operate 44 fewer daily departures at Washington Reagan National Airport and 12 fewer daily departures at New York LaGuardia Airport than the approximately 290 daily DCA departures and 175 daily LGA departures that American and US Airways operate currently, according to an American Airlines press release.
In August, the government sued to block the merger, saying it would restrict competition and drive up prices for consumers on hundreds of routes around the country.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the agreement would ensure more competition on nonstop and connecting routes throughout the country. The department called the slot and gate divestitures at key airports "groundbreaking."
“This is an important day for our customers, our people and our financial stakeholders," said Tom Horton, chairman, president and CEO of AMR, and incoming chairman of the board of the combined company in a statement. "This agreement allows us to take the final steps in creating the new American Airlines. With a renewed spirit, we are about to create the world’s leading airline that will offer, along with our oneworld partners, a comprehensive global network and service by the best people in the business."
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants applauded the deal, saying it was the "culmination of well over a year of hard work."
“This is fantastic news not only for all the employees of the new American, but for consumers and the industry,” said APFA President Laura Glading. “I want to thank our flight attendants for stepping up and making the case for this merger. Clearly, our voices were heard at the Justice Department. There is strength in unity.”
"[W]e are thankful to our employees, who throughout this process continued to believe in a better future as one airline and who voiced their support passionately and consistently," said incoming CEO of the combined airline Doug Parker.
The airlines had said their deal would increase competition by creating another big competitor to United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which grew through recent mergers.