Topic of the Week: Is DOJ Using Delay Tactics?

The next step in the American/US Airways merger trial has taken place with both sides requesting preferred court dates. The airlines have requested the trial start November 12, 91 days after the complaint was filed. DOJ, however, has requested 180 days with it starting in February.

In the motion filed with the courts, American and US Airways show that of the 16 merger challenges coming from DOJ or the FTC since 2000, 14 have gone to trial in less than 90 days. The other two were in 102 and 106 days respectively. Considering that DOJ has already had 16 months to dive into the merger, more than most, this smells of delay tactics to me.

This was brought up in the comments before. You don’t necessarily have to have a good case if you can just delay the thing the death. I’d say that appears to be DOJ’s strategy. What do you think?

Now the judge decides when to start the trial. We should know the schedule within a week. Once it goes to trial, it’s only expected to take 10 days.

46 Responses to Topic of the Week: Is DOJ Using Delay Tactics?

  1. George says:

    Agree with you-DOJ looks to be doing the delay game. It’s now in the Judge’s court-if he agrees to the date DOJ wants, I’ll bet when the date gets near DOJ will ask for a further delay. As a few others have said, this merger is dead.

  2. TomSFO says:

    Can American survive… if the DOJ tries to delay the case forever or the merger doesn’t go through?

  3. Goober says:

    When does the decision on trial date get made?

    • MeanMeosh says:

      There is a hearing scheduled for 9:30 A.M. EDT on August 30th. A decision on the trial date is expected then, according to this morning’s Dallas Morning News blog post.

  4. Goober says:

    When do we find out which date will be used?

  5. MeanMeosh says:

    Interesting tidbit from today’s Airline Biz Blog:

    http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/2013/08/antitrust-judge-in-american-airlines-us-airways-case-has-a-long-trial-scheduled-to-begin-in-mid-january.html/

    Seems the judge might shoot down the DOJ’s request for a delay, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

  6. glen says:

    You are right on with your “delay it to death” assertion!!! If the DOJ is successful in getting the judge to agree to a March court date, It’s Over without ever having to see the court room. Many have said the DOJs case is not strong…. well it may not have to be. The merger will likely not survive a delay that long.

  7. Jobe says:

    The merger was announced in Feb. 2013. Why would you think the DOJ would start looking into the merger whiel it was still just talk?

    • CF says:

      Jobe – Because they did. Companies in big mergers are required to file information with DOJ before mergers occur thanks to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. As noted in the motion made by the airline, US Airways first filed docs back in May 2012 when it decided to pursue the merger long before it occurred. The Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger notification was made in January 2013. There has been plenty of time for DOJ to review this.

  8. MeanMeosh says:

    “Delay and hinder” is a common tactic used by the government, though there’s a little more to the strategy than just “delay so they’ll go away”. Part of my day job over the years has involved fighting the State Comptroller over franchise tax assessments. It has long been rumored that if you take a position on a return that the Comptroller just doesn’t like, regardless of the merits, they will disallow it using some questionable rationale, and immediately issue a notice demanding back taxes, interest, and penalties. When you protest, you get a series of letters saying “we’re looking into it and will respond in 4-6 weeks”. An old colleague of mine who has contacts in the Comptroller’s office tells me that’s code for “we don’t like what you’re doing, but can’t find a good reason to deny you, but we’re going to keep looking until we find one.” That’s probably part of what’s going on here. Obviously, part of the hope is that in the meantime, you get tired of fighting and just pay up and go away, but it’s at least partially driven by a desire to “create new law”.

    Of course, being the conspiracy theorist that I am, I’m still convinced that this whole mess is at least partially a political favor to someone well-connected that has an axe to grind with the merger…

  9. Tom says:

    It’s about time they tried to stop these mergers. Airline mergers are good for airline execs, bad for competition, bad for employees ultimately and horrible for consumers. American employees think this is their savior…well so did the TWA employees and so did the US employees at PIT …and the Northwest employees in Memphis…..and the Midwest employees in Milwaukee… the first lame excuse the new AA can come up with and the pink slips will be flying. Ask the Continenetal employees in Houston after Southwest just announces flights to Cancun… a smokescreen for layoffs they wanted to do anyways.

    • TWA wasn’t a merger, it was an asset sale. It is likely TWA would’ve gone under.

      US/AW most likely saved US as it was on its second trip through bankruptcy, and may or may not have survived.

      NW/DL – looks like the company as a whole is doing well. Memphis is getting the service it can support, it was previously overserved, so yeah, pain happens.

      Midwest – This airline struggled for a long time, and should’ve jumped in with Airtran. The cookie got saved… for a little while.

  10. Jeff Mills says:

    I don’t trust this DOJ on anything!

    • Dr. Terry says:

      This merger needs to be stopped. That is the role- looking out for consumers. If Alaska can make it on their own (and proud of it) AA and US can also. The Justice Department is doing the correct thing at this point.

      As a student of anti-trust law they have an excellent case and will prevail. Remember that cranky has a management airline bias and is no student of anti trust law

      • ROBBY says:

        I prefer the two remain / become healthy, competitive, stand-alone carriers.
        Alaska is a perfect example.
        Does everyone really want to see this merger?
        Phoenix residents might wanna be speaking up.

    • Jeff, my friend, I choose to believe the DOJ BEFORE I believe Doug Parker, et al, on this matter. As I have stated previously, Parker has too much to lose if this attempted mega merger does not go through, so he will promise the moon. The consumers will not come out gaining if the merger happens. I have no problem if the DOJ saves money and runs out the clock on this episode. It looks like a good strategy to me. The people who cheer for this merger never underline the PROBABILITY of lost jobs, less or no service to several cities, worse service and treatment for travelers AND, lest we forget – the INEVITABLE higher fares with less competition. One has to be on drugs not to see the other side of the coin if this goes through.

      Example: I tried calling United regarding a reservation this morning and I got busy signals on ALL the 800 numbers until almost noon. It should NOT take hours to speak to an airline, especially after all the promises made of improved EVERYTHING after their merger with Continental. Sorry, we don’t need more of these types of “improvements” by allowing more mergers. OR should I say allowing more DISASTERS!

      • John says:

        Consumer Mike, I am guessing you clearly have not followed the airline industry very closely. Your example does not make sense. So by AA/US not merging they will answer the phones quicker? You would get the same response from them today, unmerged. Service in the airline industry has gone down, everyone will agree. Stopping the merger will do nothing to prevent this. The airlines are not selling widgets. US/AA merging will make the industry stronger by adding a stronger competitor. Will jobs be lost, absolutely. Does that mean it is bad? I don’t think so. All companies get leaner to survive, nobody likes it, but it is a fact. Fares will go higher regardless if this merger happens or not. They must for the carriers to survive. Fares have gone up over the last year and these carriers were not merged. Will some cities suffer because of reduced service, yes. That is also a fact. If there is not enough demand in a market the prices have to go exorbitantly high or the flights must go away, pure economics. Air travel is not designed for everyone. No one promised anyone that there would be $200 airfares. Take Greyhound if you want to get somewhere cheap. Fares are cheaper today adjusted for inflation than they were in 1978. This is why we have an airline industry that is weak. We need a strong airline industry to survive economically. This merger will only help that. And before you ask, I do not work for an airline and am a frequent flyer, suffering with bad service like everyone else. But I am all for this merger, as it will strengthen this industry overall.

      • Bill says:

        I’m sorry, Consumer Mike, but that comment is just completely idiotic. Mergers have nothing to do with how long it takes you to get through to the airline. Every airline, or rather every single corporation in the world has that problem. Try getting elite status, it’ll help.

        And the thing you seem to really not be understanding is that without the merger we’ll have less competition. Right now you have 2 big carriers and a bunch of more medium-sized ones. This way we’ll have 3 big carriers again. And can you honestly say you’re not impressed by American’s new onboard product? With the merger American will still be around to complete its fleet renewal program. Oh yeah, and the jobs you talk about: if American doesn’t merge with US, I highly doubt American will survive, and 1000s of workers will lose their jobs. Why are the unions behind this? Because they love lower pay and not having jobs. You have honestly completely ignored every single fact about the merger.

        You consumer advocated all claim to be for the consumer, but in all honesty the consumer doesn’t need you. You’re actions end up hurting the consumer and the greater industries. Just think about the people and the FACTS before you speak the trash your wrote above.

        • Thank you Bill and John for reading my opinion and I am glad it got you to thinking. First, let me say that the example I gave was to illustrate that some promises made to grease the skids for mergers have the same value as political campaign promises to entice your vote from your hands. I am an Elite level passenger on American and NEVER have a problem calling in for any reason. That could chane to a negative if the merger happens. Todays experience only served to remind me why I seldom fly UNITED or DELTA. AND, I can honestly say that I am not happy that AMERICAN has changed its seating policy which charges more for a few extra inches taken from already uncomfortable and inhumane seating in the main cabin. Being Elite I normally escape the shrinking seating. The other changes I can live without.

          Bill, I and other blogers do not buy into your opinion that American could not survive without a merger. However, I do believe that US AIR may be on thin ice if it doesn’t happen. I totally agree with what Tom has posted above regarding the aftermath of “The grass is always greener” thinking of mergers. The unions are following the golden ring of promises from our friend Parker and will only see the truth as they are handed Pink Slips. And, Bill, you are dead wrong when you say that consumers don’t need to see other opinions that point out the dangers and flaws of individuals or company lines that would hurt them or sell them down the river. Bill, voice and opinion, like mine, can differ. This blog gives us the opportunity to trade opinions. However, not all thinking people buy into the fantasy of yours that mergers will save the world. You sound like you would have been a cheer leader for mergers of Health Care, Big Oil and Banks. I’ll bet you never saw a merger you didn’t love.

          John, you make sense on much of what you write. I don’t agree with everything, but hey, that’s OK. Yes, you are right on that with the added charges to base airline fares (fees, services, civilized seating, etc.) it has priced many travelers out of the air. AND, I believe those numbers will grow. Especially in this Depression we are currently enduring. But again, I say that killing competition in ANY industry is historically bad for consumers. You are fooling yourself in thinking different. So, we can agree to disagree.

          My Opinion.

          • Bill says:

            Consumer Mike — thanks for your response. I apologize for poorly phrasing my stance against consumer advocates. I think you’re right that consumers need people to tell them the other side of the story, but often times, the so-called “advocates” tell them lies about the horribleness that will ensue if corporations merge. You may be very different from that stereotype I unfortunately possess, and if you are, I am sorry. I’m all for consumer advocates, as long as they act responsibly (just like I’m for unions or congressmen if they act responsibly!).

            And if you look at what happens for consumers and workers after mergers, the grass does tend to be greener. Passengers on both American and US Airways will have expanded route networks to travel on. You can expect to lose some frequency, sure, but not nearly as much as the “advocates” and DOJ are claiming. That’s just what happens when a merger occurs: you need to remove some overlap. Southwest passengers are able to receive an expanded route network internationally via Air Tran, at similar price points, and overall frequency hasn’t been terribly altered yet.

            Oh, and I’m not a cheerleader of all mergers like you claim. But if you’ve taken a college economics course you see that consolidation led by a free market does tend to help strengthen an industry and help the greater economy. The honest truth is that there were just too many airlines, and they all can’t compete against each other successfully. The free market tends to get it right.

          • MeanMeosh says:

            Consumer Mike, I have to disagree with your assertion that AA is capable of surviving on its own as a separate entity. Short-term, sure, but long-term, I find that questionable. First, AA’s stand-alone bankruptcy plan basically involved increasing capacity by something like 20% and starting fare wars all over the map to increase market share. How is that going to succeed long-term, or be better for consumers? Sure, you might see some temporary fare cuts in markets where war is declared, but eventually, they’re going to go back up when the next economic downturn wreaks havoc on the weakest carrier, which in all likelihood will be AA as the little guy who returned to profitability the latest. Even if that doesn’t happen, corporate boards aren’t stupid – shareholders aren’t going to tolerate shrinking margins, so while you might see base fares go down, I’d be willing to bet we’ll see even more of the fees you guys hate so much.

            But putting that aside, the thing that most people who don’t like the merger keep glossing over to their peril is the untenable management situation at AA. Number one, they’ve shown a history of incompetence over the past 15 years, and they aren’t going anywhere, but more than that, labor hates them. That’s not a good thing. If you want poor service on an airline, find one with bad labor-management relations. Just look at UA from the Glenn Tilton days, or US from a few years ago, when the Philly USAPA pilots engaged in illegal slowdowns to gum up the works. AA’s labor relations aren’t going to magically get better just because they’ve been through bankruptcy, and eventually, it’s going to come to a head. You argue that service will decline in the merged airline, which might happen, but do you really think it’ll be better on a stand-alone AA where the workers hate their current management?

            Do I think the USAA merger is going to be all smiles and rainbows? No. In fact, my gut feeling is this merger will turn out a lot more like UA/CO than NW/DL, primarily because the labor situation is more explosive and has been largely glossed over by parties supporting the merger. (Sorry, Nick and Cranky, but I have to respectfully disagree with you here. The labor problems at US today might not be Doug Parker’s doing, but he made labor his problem when he decided to go straight to them to try and force a merger on AA. I just don’t see this ending particularly well, and he’s going to have to own whatever comes out of it.) But are you going to end up with a better outcome if the merger doesn’t happen? I seriously doubt it. If/when the combined airline goes through integration problems a la UA/CO, that’s at least something that can be fixed. AA going out of business can’t.

            My $.02.

          • MeanMeosh says:

            I also feel compelled to respond to another point that just sticks in my craw every time I see it. You say that “you are right on that with the added charges to base airline fares (fees, services, civilized seating, etc.) it has priced many travelers out of the air.” I hear that from guys like you, Chris Elliott, and Charlie Leocha all the time, but how exactly do you propose to fix that “problem”? For one, I have to question that “many travelers have been priced out of the air”, because even if you add in fees, airfares are about the same if not a little lower in real terms as they were 15-20 years ago. But don’t take my word for it – Mitchell Schnurman at the Dallas Morning News did a study on this for an editorial last week (it is behind a paywall, but the basic jist is that airfares in real terms are down 15 percent from 1995, and even with fees, are slightly lower than they were in 2000):

            http://www.dallasnews.com/business/columnists/mitchell-schnurman/20130817-schnurman-another-metric-in-american-airlines-merger-bulking-up-for-business-travelers.ece

            So I don’t think it’s true that “many people” are being priced out of the market. But even otherwise, the “fix” that people like Elliott and Leocha keep peddling is government regulation of fees, and regulations on seat pitch and width, basically reducing the number of seats in coach on a plane. What bugs me most about this is that this is sold by consumer advocates as a panacea, but conveniently ignore the cost to consumers. You cut the fees, and you cut the number of seats on the plane, and simple math tells you that fares are going to go up to produce the same amount of revenue/profit. Elliott especially likes to personally attack people who try to argue this point with him, but that doesn’t make it less true. Are you willing to pay higher fares to end the fees and increase your legroom? If so, great, but if not, what you are arguing is that airlines should be regulated by the government like a public utility, with profits capped, but overall higher fares and reduced service. That’s at least a legitimate argument to make, though I disagree that would be the best outcome for consumers, but for once, I’d like all these consumer advocates to be honest about that, and stop leading people to believe that they can get E+ seating, a free checked bag, and a hot meal for “free”.

            /rant

      • David M says:

        Every merger has its glitches, but using United is a bad example as they’ve been pretty well known as a basket case ever since the UA/CO merger went through. DL/NW and WN/FL have both been a lot smoother than UA/CO. Plus, Parker and his team just did the HP/US merger not that long ago, so they have their own experiences to use to try and avoid the same issues.

      • Consumer Mike – how has the service on DL changed? I’ven’t flown them recently, but the general impression I get is that it has improved markedly. UA/CO merger has made service has been a mess, but DL/NW has improved service. Its a 50/50 what’ll happen to service with US/AA, although my money is more like DL/NW than UA/CO. I’m sure the US/AA management team has looked over at those two for examples.

        MeanMeosh – How do you see US/AA labor going to become a mess? I have thought through this, and AA’s labor unions are going to control the resulting merged employee groups.

        US/AW was a unique situation, that has been hashed over multiple times, but the starting points were: There wasn’t a pre-merger labor agreement. The smaller carrier “saved” the larger carrier. Both carriers had the same pilots union.

        The US/AA has completely different starting points. There is a pre-merger labor agreement. Yes, the smaller carrier is “saving” the larger carrier again. However, each airline has a different pilots union, as a result that will be the post-merger pilot union.

        • OK Guys, It appears a have a list of questions and comments about my opinions, so I will try to answer them the best I can:

          I am on travel right now and for the first time in a LONG time I flew UA. I did not know what to expect after the merger. This time I flew SNA (Orange County) to Houston (Int) then on to MCO (Orlando). The United ground staff was good. Both flights were FULL. At Houston the guy next to me must have been a football player. Big and long. His legs could not fit under the seat in front of him (yes- we were sitting in the main cabin where non-upgrade seating is VERY tight!!) so he “spilled” over on my side. Since there was nothing he could do I didn’t bitch. BUT, I was uncomfortable and will contact UA to comment on their tight seating. So Nick, Overall, I see an improvement in UA service (unless it was Ex-Continental Personnel) Air staff was good as well. Regarding your question to me about my Delta opinion, that is a different story. Many times in the past I have flown Delta connecting through Atlanta. Because of winter or summer storms (which are getting worse as climate changes) I have been delayed there many times. That is bad enough, but the bad attitude and non-caring ground personnel, not to mention the Call Centre staff, long ago made Delta that last resort airline for me. NW, which basically, had a captive audience didn’t even try for good customer relations. They didn’t have to, so they fit right into the Delta mold. Bottom line, I am not holding my breath on Delta.

          Bill, No need to apologize. You like me are entitled to your opinion. I cannot claim to be correct on every opinion – BUT, I try. I try and comment on what I BELIEVE would be impacts on the traveling consumer (as I see it). I can not and DO NOT defend union actions that are self-destructive or unreasonable, case in point, the auto unions of Detroit. Between bad management and greedy unions they destroyed the gem of American Industry. I do agree with you that a merger for AA/US would expand the network. That is good and I like that. However, the Parker price for that plus would not be good. OK, minor cuts in destinations and staff would be expected. BUT, Parker is going for the Gold in Them Hills! He will price at whatever the market will bare.Some increase may be understandable, but I [personally] do not think it would stop at a reasonable level with LESS COMPETITION. Greed and Competition are like water and oil.

          Mean Meosh, Again, let me say am stating my personal opinion on these issues. I believe with IMPROVED management, after comming out of bankruptcy, AA would have a fighting chance of surviving and gaining in the market place – especially if they make COMPETITIVE decisions. So, in this case we can agree to disagree. SouthWest is no longer the competitive airline of the past. I believe most flying blogers can agree with that statement. The union of Air Tran and SW was a non-plus as I see it. Even today if you compare the fares this currently interating pair of AL does not always come out good on fares. What they do offer is a good network of service. With SW not giving you reserved seats. Good Luck traveling families with kids!! AND, NO I do not have a sure fire formula for ANY airline to insure survivability and smiles at the bank. No One has, so what kind of a loaded question was that you made?? Remember, nothing is guaranteed in life. All anyone commenting on consumer impact or suggestions for improvement or dangers have been invited by Cranky to voice their thoughts and opinions on his blog. Granted, over the years I have seen somes very stupid or ill advised comments comming from ALL sides on several different subjects. But, hey, that comes with the territory of free thought. Certainly some comments and opinions – Good & Bad – can make us think.

  11. glen says:

    If this merger fails, we will be left with the mega airlines Delta and United. American will likely shrink into a nitch airline and airways will be only a small player. Remembering my econ classes, this would essentially be a duopoly. That’s extremely anti competitive. Seems to me that having another meaningful competitor would solve the problem. Airway and AA can’t do that on their own but together the could. Seems to me this merger might be a good deal for the consumer after all.

  12. With all the massive info DOJ has demanded, US and AA would have had to be brain dead to have been “surprised”.

  13. glen says:

    I agree. The only thing I might add is that if this merger fails, united and delta will not have any other meaningful competetion, thus fares will rise more. We need that third mega airline to make this a healthy market.

  14. mark says:

    Tom, regarding mergers. AA-TWA was not a merger. It was a purchase while TWA was in it’s in third bankruptcy preceeding. Third time in 10 years, 1992, 1998, 2001.

  15. Do I think the DOJ is stalling? You bet I do.

    • glen says:

      It appears the doj wrote their complaint so that it will take a very long time to litigate. They have already made public comments about how they view the trial as being lengthy. Their strategy all along has been “delay it till it dies”. Interesting that the DOJ is tasked with upholding the law and they appear to be on the wrong side of the law on this issue. They have created a complaint not to “win” in court but to delay to the point the merger dies on it’s own. Thus winning anyway… Doesn’t seem right, does it. Wonder if the judge will see thru this strategy?? Anyone have a clue on that?

  16. Dan says:

    Logically, the merger makes sense as a counterweight to what would inevitably be a UA/DL duopoly. In reality, I suspect we’ll just be trading that duopoly for a cartel. Fares will increase and service will decline (in both senses of that word). The merger becomes an opportunity to extend the pattern of the last 35 years, when corporate focus shifted from customer satisfaction to shareholder value. Short term, I’m betting that DOJ succeeds and consequently am bailing on Exect Plat for the first time in 13 years, taking a status match from DL and looking at spending down 1.3 million banked AAdvantage miles. (This is diffrent from wanting this to happen, but even climate-change deniers are buying rubber boots now.)

  17. eds says:

    Judge Kollar-Kotelly will eventually decide this one way or another. But let’s face it, there is no way a she issues a ruling before the end of the year. She is a very thorough Judge. She was appointed by Clinton in 1997 and she oversaw the settlement phase of US v Microsoft.

    The US/AA team is going to have to provide greater weight of evidence that the merger will not decrease competitiveness and cost consumers more $$. It will not enough to say that “the study that the GAO did has issues”, they are going to have to convince the judge that this merger is the second coming a Christ for consumers. (Ok, maybe not that much but close.)

    This is where Parker and his minions screwed up with their horrible email discipline. They pretty much admitted that the merger would allow them to cut capacity, raise prices, and cut service.

    • CF says:

      eds – You may be right that it doesn’t happen by the end of the year, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it did happen. Two things to address in your statement.

      1) US vs Microsoft was an antitrust case, not a merger case. Those drag on forever while merger cases do not.

      2) I believe you have it backwards. US/AA doesn’t have to prove its case. The burden is on DOJ to prove that it will harm competition. US/AA simply has to refute what DOJ presents. The exception is in those 1,000 markets where DOJ says that the merger is presumptively illegal because of the HHI calculation. US/AA has to prove that’s not true, and there are plenty of holes to poke.

  18. dan powers says:

    most professors in economics will agree only 3 major airlines will survive…AA already knows it needs to get 20% bigger…USair will not survive long term…their employee salaries are frozen to late 1980’s levels…once they bounce back to normal…Usair will be dismantled or sold off to AA…the DOJ is just spinning their wheels….a merger is inevitable

  19. WildcatJDF says:

    The only thing a merger between these two companies (both of which have admitted they do not need each other to survive) is going to cause is a downgrade in service for those of us who travel week after week. I used to be a huge Delta fan until they merged with Northwest, I had to jump ship because as a top tier Delta frequent flyer I lost nearly all benefits of flying with them. All of the sudden it was impossible to get an upgrade, international flights had to be booked in a certain fare class to upgrade, and domestic overseas flights (Hawaii / Puerto Rico) could also no longer be upgrade like normal domestic flights. Mind you I was flying over 130k miles a year and getting very little return in benefits. To this day this holds true. My boss is based in ATL and when he and I fly some place like Beijing more often that not I get my American upgrade to business class after paying the lowest possible ticket and my boss after paying several thousand dollars more than me to get an “upgradeable” ticket often never get cleared because there are just too many Delta frequent flyers fighting for the seats.

    So yes this merger most likely will make the new American Airlines a stronger and richer company and most likely will raise fares as there will be less competition but for those of us who fly practically every week…be prepared to get really screwed and have far less fun flying.

    • Glen says:

      So Wildcatjdf, you think that having two mega airlines (merger dies) versus three mega airlines (merger survives) will provide for more competition??? Last I checked, Econ types would tell us that two like competitors would be anticompetitive however three would improve competitiveness. Wondering what your reasoning is? My view is that UAL and DAL will have us by the “short hairs” if this merger fails……

      • Wildcatjdf says:

        Glen I believe if the merger dies that competitiveness will remain about the same as it is now. I am not sure how often you fly, but I fly on average 120+ flights a year, out of which American gladly upgrades me to First class about 95% of the time. I fly less miles, less flights than what Delta requires for the same treatment, and as I said in my post my peers who fly Delta who fly more than I do only get the benefit of flying First Class about 60% of the time. For those of us who fly pretty much weekly that is a big change. Today American services almost every major destination in the world with good flight options and USAIR services really only North America / Caribbean with a few European options so all this merger does is increase the number of flights that American will have in North America for which its coverage is already fairly adequate given that their frequent fliers almost always receive their upgrades and the planes are normally 90-100% full.

        • Wildcat, I agree with your comments and observations. Although I no longer fly as mucfh as you do, I fly often. Your comparison of the FF programs of AA and Delta is what I also find. AA AADVANTAGE FF program is much better than the SKYMILES of Delta. In fact I will say that there is no comparison between the two. I have found time and again that using SKYMILES is almost impossible on many overseas destinations – even with their partner airlines. At times it is also getting difficult to use AADVANTAGE miles, but overall, more available. Same domestically. Your observation in comparing AA and USAIR service destinations (domestic & international) are right on. AA and the ONE WORLD network meet most needs.

          I find your thoughts realistic and written by someone who is familiar with consistent flying activities. You “walk-the-walk”. I enjoy your input/opinions.

        • glen says:

          Wildcat…. You are making the assumption that American would stay roughly the same size if the merger fails. Unfortunately, you won’t find many airline analysts that would agree with you. Most project that American will shrink to roughly 50% of their current size. If that’s the case we have a huge problem. A perfect little duopoly created by the DOJ not fighting the UA/CA and DL/NW mergers. Now the DOJ has a chance to redeem itself by allowing the very merger that would at least partially fix the economic duopoly they allowed. Here’s the bottom line: There is NO airline out there now that can effectively and meaningfully compete with mega airlines United and Delta. Why??? It’s all about network size and access to markets. You don’t have it….. You can’t compete. To a large extent, that’s why AA is in bankruptcy. AA’s network and access makes them (even at their current size) a poor competitor to United and Delta. Now imagine AA significantly smaller!!!! How many frequent flyer “extras” do you think your going to get from UA and DL operating in a economic duopoly? Yeah… not many. And oh, by the way, if airlines were operating at 90 to 100% system wide load factors, they would be doing pretty darn good financially. Please check into just how much profit the airline industry has raked in over the last ten years. Your search will reveal they have lost billions!!! Not really a great place to invest your money is it!! Even the great Warren Buffet got fooled. Don’t feel bad!!!

  20. Quest says:

    I really liked the part where USAA quoted the DOJ saying “We don’t file lawsuits unless we’re prepared vigorously to defend them, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”

    If that’s the case and they are ready to defend, why try and wait until February.

  21. Dot cahill says:

    It gets ugly when the government (DOJ or other branch) gets involved look at the busload of college students taken to the Martin-Zimmerman trial they like to stir it up

  22. Pingback: American and US Airways Get Their Day in Court With a Side of Turkey and Stuffing - >> The Cranky Flier

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