JetBlue Chief Says American Needs to Give Up D.C. Flights

A merged AMR Corp. (AAMRQ)’s American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) should have to give up flights in Washington as part of their deal, the chief of JetBlue (JBLU) Airways Corp. said.

The combined carriers would control about two-thirds of flights at Washington’s capacity-controlled Reagan National Airport, which would harm competition, JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Dave Barger said in an interview today.

“It is not right for one airline to have two-thirds of the slots at one airport,” Barger said in an interview at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce aviation conference. “We feel very strongly about this.”

Barger called on the U.S. government to order the new carrier to give up an unspecified number of flights that would be auctioned to other carriers. Long Island City, New York-based JetBlue wants to expand its presence in Washington, he said.

The chief executive officers of the companies seeking to merge, Doug Parker of US Airways and Tom Horton of AMR, told a Senate Judiciary Committee panel March 19 that there’s no need to reduce flights.

The Washington region is served by two other large airports with robust competition, Horton said. Those airports are Washington Dulles International and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall. Giving up flights would hinder the carrier’s ability to serve small communities, Parker said.

The proposed combination, which would create the world’s largest carrier, won approval from a U.S. bankruptcy judge yesterday. The Justice Department’s antitrust division earlier this month asked for more information from the companies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Levin in Washington at alevin24@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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