Chambers of Commerce back airline merger

A group of 26 state Chambers of Commerce is pushing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to allow the merger of U.S. Airways and American Airlines.

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit that argues the proposed merger would violate federal antitrust laws because the companies have too many similar flight destinations.

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However, the leaders of 26 state and city Chambers of Commerce said the companies should be allowed to merge like other airlines that have combined forces in recent years. 

"On behalf of our communities and member businesses across the United States, we are writing today in support of the combination of American Airlines and US Airways and to ask the Department of Justice to settle the lawsuit currently preventing the carriers from forming the new American Airlines," the chamber leaders wrote. 

"We support this combination because the new American will be a better airline with a solid financial foundation," the letter continued. "As a result, the new American will be able to compete effectively with Delta, United, Southwest, and the ever-increasing number of smaller carriers, and the business community will have a more efficient and dependable partner for air transportation needs. More competition in the airline industry will help everyone, even as the new American delivers greater benefits to consumers, businesses, labor, and the local communities it serves." 

The letter follows a similar effort by a group of mayors of cities that are home to hub airports for U.S. Airways and American, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), earlier this week. 

Like the mayors, the Chambers of Commerce argued that American and U.S. Air's route structures would compliment each other. 

"With more than 6,700 daily flights to 336 locations in more than 50 countries around the world, the new American Airlines will offer more options to travelers, businesses and organizations," the chamber leaders wrote. "This expanded network is an asset for local businesses; the modern economy demands mobility and adaptability, and the new American will help connect businesses with customers wherever they are. Cities and towns will gain access to new markets through the expanded network of the new American, making their communities more attractive to new investment and helping their economies grow." 

U.S. Airways and American have responded to the Justice Department's lawsuit by arguing that they have less than 10 overlapping nonstop routes. However, the DOJ has argued that flights with layovers, which would greatly increase the number of similar routes, should also be counted. 

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