Virgin America to tell court it opposes airline merger

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Virgin America on Monday asked a federal court for permission to file a brief in the American Airlines-US Airways antitrust case, saying that slot divestitures at a few airports will not help consumers.

The carrier, which caters to business travelers with its inflight amenities, said it opposes the American-US Airways merger because it will reduce competition for U.S. travelers.

“Virgin America believes that it can show the Court that unless this merger is blocked, a simple fix for a few large airports will leave most of the hub-hub routes as monopoly markets and the connecting city pairs and all the passengers who travel in them without any remedy at all,” the airline said in its filing.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly quickly granted Virgin America’s request. Briefs for the antitrust trial must be received by Friday. The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 25.

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the carriers were in “ongoing” settlement talks with the government and that giving up takeoff and landing slots at a few airports was being discussed. Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways reportedly have both told the government they are interested in purchasing slots at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Southwest said Friday it also plans to file a “friend of the court” brief in the antitrust trial saying it will explain how the merger will lessen competition unless there is a “significant divestiture of slots” at Reagan and LaGuardia.

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