AMR-US Airways Trial Should Wait Till March, U.S. Says

The trial over the merger of AMR Corp. (AAMRQ) and US Airways Group Inc. should wait at least until March instead of starting in November, the U.S. government told a court.

Rushing to try the antitrust lawsuit isn’t a good idea given the case’s complexity and the potential for the merger to hurt competition and consumers, the Justice Department said in papers filed yesterday in federal court in Washington.

Short-term costs and uncertainties must be balanced against “the need for a full and fair exploration of the claims at issue, and the merger’s potential for long-term harm to consumers,” the government said.

Given the volume of trial materials to be exchanged, including interviews, expert testimony and data, “that is hardly a leisurely schedule,” it said.

The Justice Department’s request for a trial date of March 3 “is entirely unreasonable” given that the department has already been investigating the merger for more than 16 months, Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways and Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines said in a joint statement. The airlines proposed a November starting date for the trial.

“The government cannot justify its slow trial schedule,” the airlines said in the statement, noting that delays in American Airlines’ exit from bankruptcy hurt its creditors, shareholders and employees.

The case is U.S. v. US Airways Group Inc. (LCC), 13-cv-01236, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporters on this story: Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net; Andrew Zajac in Washington at azajac@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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