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Klobuchar: Lawsuit to block American-US Airways merger reflects competition ‘concerns’

WASHINGTON — Back in February, when American Airlines announced its proposed merger with US Airways, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she would hold a congressional hearing to examine the deal’s effects on airline industry competitiveness.

She did so in March, and she said today’s Justice Department lawsuit to block the merger reflects concerns she and other lawmakers had over “this merger’s potential impact on fares, fees, jobs, service and safety.”

“Whether it’s a family looking for affordable flights or a small business-owner looking for the best frequent flier program, we need to make sure consumers have as many choices as possible at the lowest prices and that no airline or small group of airlines has a stranglehold on the market,” Klobuchar said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “At the hearing there were serious issues raised about the effect of the merger on prices in particular markets, and the Justice Department’s complaint reflects those concerns.”

At a March hearing of Klobuchar’s Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, lawmakers peppered US and American officials over recent consolidation in the airline industry. If American and US were to merge, it would create the world’s largest airline — and mean only four carriers (Delta, United, Southwest and the new American-US venture) would control 80 percent of the domestic airline market. 

The Government Accountability Office reported in June that the merger would reduce competition for more than 53 million fliers. The Justice Department and seven state attorneys general sued to block the merger on Tuesday.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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