AMR, US Airways Seek U.S. Data on Airline Deal Approvals

American Airlines (AAMRQ) and US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) are seeking Justice Department documents on past U.S. approvals of airline mergers as the carriers fight the government’s effort to block their proposed tie-up.

The Justice Department, which sued the airlines in August, has refused to turn over records about its approval of previous airline deals such as the 2010 United Airlines-Continental Airlines merger, the companies said in a court filing today in federal court in Washington.

“Even more remarkable than DOJ’s abrupt and unexplained reversal is the fact that it contends that the dramatic change in its view of consolidation in the airline industry is off-limits in the discovery process here,” they said.

The Justice Department claims the proposed merger of American parent AMR Corp. and US Airways, which would create the world’s largest airline, would reduce competition and hurt consumers. Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR and US Airways, based in Tempe, Arizona, are defending the deal as procompetitive. The case is scheduled to begin trial on Nov. 25.

The airlines want a court order compelling documents on the 2005 US Airways-America West Airlines merger, the 2008 Delta Air Lines-Northwest Airlines merger, the 2010 United Airlines-Continental Airlines merger, and the 2011 Southwest Airlines-AirTran merger, according to the court filing.

The airlines said they need the records to defend against the Justice Department’s lawsuit and “will be at a significant disadvantage” if the U.S. doesn’t respond. There is no other source from which they can get final versions of the Justice Department’s consumer-benefit studies, data analyses, and other factual models and forecasts on which it relied in approving the previous mergers, the airlines said.

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

To contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net; Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net.

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

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