Tennessee reaches agreement to allow airline merger
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper announced Tuesday an agreement in the state's challenge to the proposed merger of US Airways and American Airlines.
The settlement will require the New American Airlines to continue to serve each of Tennessee's five major airports in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga and the Tri-Cities for five years.
"Today's agreement should provide Tennesseans more opportunities to buy low-cost airline options. It also opens the door to increased competition to smaller carriers, benefiting consumers and businesses," said Attorney General Cooper.
As part of the agreement, US Airways and American will continue to offer service in Tennessee. At issue for Tennesseans was divestiture of airline slots at Reagan National Airport and LaGuardia International Airport.
The divestiture of 104 Reagan slots and 34 LaGuardia slots will allow lower-cost carriers such as Jet Blue and Southwest to bid for the slots. Without divestiture, the New American Airlines would have controlled 69 percent of the slots at Reagan.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the States also signed off on a related proposed final judgment that will remain in place for 10 years.
The States and DOJ filed the action on August 13 this year and a trial was scheduled to begin on November 25. Tennessee was joined by the States of Arizona, the District of Columbia, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Since 2008, major airlines including Delta and Northwest, United and Continental and Southwest and Airtran have all merged.
A reduction in seat capacity and in some cases a dramatic reduction of service such as in Memphis following the Delta and Northwest merger. This resulted fewer flying options and higher prices for Tennesseans.