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Airline Merger Trial To Start In November

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WASHINGTON (AP/CBSDFW.COM) - A federal judge says a trial over the government’s lawsuit to block the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways will start Nov. 25, a timetable favored by the airlines.

The U.S. Justice Department wanted the trial to start in March, saying it needs more time to prepare for the complex case. The airlines say a long delay would threaten their merger.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said in court Friday that March was “too far off.”

The companies were close to completing a merger to create the world’s biggest airline, but the Justice Department and six states sued this month to block the deal. They say it would reduce competition and lead to higher prices for travelers.

US Airways CEO Doug Parker and AMR Chairman Tom Horton released a joint statement to airline employees celebrating the court date.  The following is part of that statement:

“We are pleased the Court has set a schedule that will enable us to resolve this litigation in a reasonable timeframe. Given the significant benefits this merger will deliver to consumers, employees and other stakeholders, and that the creation of the new American Airlines will provide much-needed competition, our duty remains clear: We are more committed than ever to bringing our airlines together and look forward to making our case for the new American in court.”

Members of the Transport Workers Union from both airlines also released a statement supporting the November trial date:

“A new American Airlines composed of US Airways and the current American will provide greater competition with Delta and United as well as with foreign airlines. The new American will certainly offer travelers more options and better service.TWU members are concerned about job security and the future of the new American Airlines that has been jeopardized as a result of the Department of Justice’s interference in the merger process. We just need a fair chance to compete.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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