HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A federal judge has ruled that the federal government’s lawsuit to block the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways will begin November 25.
The U.S. Justice Department had pushed for the trial to begin in March to have enough time to prepare for the case.
The two airlines had previously requested a November start date saying that a later trial would cause a ‘strain’ on the dealings.
The potential merger is a legitimate concern for Huntsville International Airport specifically when it comes to airline slot divestitures in Washington, D.C.
“Reagan National Airport in D.C. is our number 1 destination,” explains Port of Huntsville Spokeswoman Chantal Minish. “We average 46 to and from there a week and so our number one priority during this merger is to maintain our service.”
Minish says the airport also wants to preserve the ability to grow that D.C. connection as the Huntsville market demands.
“The biggest concern with a merger is that is means there is less competition between the airline carriers, so you’re going from 4 legacy carriers to just 3.”
Minish says if the merger goes through the airport would like to see slots divested to actual communities not just other airlines.
“If slots are divested then we would like to see provisions put in place to protect the small communities that are currently being served at DCA.”
The merged airline would control 69% of the slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which would be six times more than the closest competitor.
The airlines have vowed to fight the lawsuit and argue that their union would actually make the market more competitive. Other airlines have been allowed to merge in recent years including United/Continental and Southwest/AirTran.