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From Antitrust Law Daily, October 8, 2013

U.S. opposes union’s request to intervene in American Airlines/US Airways merger challenge

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

The U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division opposes an effort by the Transport Workers Union of America AFL-CIO (TWU) to intervene in a federal/state action challenging the merger between US Airways Group Inc. and AMR Corporation, the parent of American Airlines.

TWU, which represents more than 23,000 AMR/American Airlines employees and 300 US Airways employees, sought to intervene as a defendant in the action based on a “significant interest in the outcome of the matter.” In an October 7 court filing, TWU said that it was seeking intervention “to protect the interests of its members and their families, to focus on the preservation for their jobs, and to accomplish those goals by being the voice of those concerns” in proceedings before the federal district court in Washington, D.C. The union asked that the court consider allowing it to participate in the proceedings as an amicus curiae in the event it denies intervention.

In response to the court’s request for the parties’ positions on the union’s motion, the Antitrust Division filed a statement today, asking the court to deny the motion as untimely. TWU waited until the eve of the close of fact discovery and only six weeks before the start of trial to file its request for intervention, it was noted.

The Justice Department also argued that TWU’s intervention was unnecessary. The union’s interest in seeing the merger completed was adequately protected by the current defendants, the government asserted.

This view was echoed by the defendants in their opposition to TWU’s motion to intervene. According to the airlines, the union’s intervention also would complicate the proceedings and potentially jeopardize the expedited trial schedule. A trial in the matter is set to begin on November 25.

The U.S. Department of Justice, six states, and the District of Columbia, filed an antitrust complaint on August 13, challenging the creation of “the world’s largest airline.” An amended complaint was later filed adding the State of Michigan. On October 1, the Texas attorney general moved to dismiss its claims against the airlines in light of a settlement resolving the state’s concerns over the merger (U.S. v. US Airways Group Inc., Case 1:13-cv-01236).

Attorneys: Jeffrey Blumenfeld (Lowenstein Sandler, LLP); Richard G. Parker (O’Melveny & Myers LLP), Paul T. Denis (Dechert LLP), and Charles F. Rule (Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, LLP) for US Airways Group, Inc. John M. Majoras (Jones Day) and Mary Jean Moltenbrey (Paul Hastings LLP) for AMR Corp. Mark W. Ryan for U.S. Department of Justice.

Companies: AMR Corp.; US Airways Group, Inc.; Transport Workers Union of America AFL-CIO

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