WASHINGTON (AP) – Leaders of Fort Worth-based American Airlines and US Airways have told lawmakers that combining their companies will benefit consumers by creating a tougher competitor for industry giants United and Delta.

The executives made the comments Tuesday at a hearing of a U.S. House antitrust law subcommittee.

American, owned by AMR Corp., and US Airways Group Inc. announced merger plans Feb. 14. Company leaders say an American-US Airways merger would create the world’s largest airline but the new American would still have less than 25 percent of the U.S. market.

Congress has no formal role in approving the merger — that’s up to antitrust regulators, the federal judge overseeing American’s bankruptcy case and shareholders.

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