DOJ, airlines agree to mediation

The Department of Justice, and U.S. Airways and American Airlines have agreed to mediation about the airlines' proposed merger, according to court documents that were filed this week. 

The agreement comes a month ahead of scheduled opening arguments in the Justice Department's lawsuit to block the proposed American-U.S. Airways merger.

Justice officials argue that the combined airlines would violate federal antitrust laws because they have too many similar flight destinations.

The airlines have countered that less than 10 of their normal flight schedules are identical nonstop routes. Justice says flights with layovers should also be counted.

Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderComey's book tour is all about 'truth' — but his FBI tenure, not so much James Comey and Andrew McCabe: You read, you decide Eric Holder headed to New Hampshire for high-profile event MORE has framed the lawsuit as an effort by the Obama administration to protect airline passengers from price increases for flights.

Aviation industry officials have argued that the Obama administration is overreaching in its attempt to stop the merger because other airlines, such as Delta and Northwest, and United and Continental airlines, have been allowed to combine forces in recent years.

The lawsuit is being contested in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.