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Feds And Texas Attorney General Team Up To Block Airline Merger

American Airlines

Tuesday's lawsuit to block a merger between Fort Worth-based American Airlines and U.S. Airways brought together an unlikely alliance -- U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who's launched a conservative bid for governor. They joined five other states and the District of Columbia. Here's a look at how it's playing out in Texas.

Aviation attorney Kent Krause says he was a bit surprised when he heard about the lawsuit.

“It is a little interesting from Texas’ perspective since the headquarters seemingly was going to be in Texas,” he said. “American is a big company in this state, so you’d think the state’s attorney general would be a little more supportive.”

But Krause says the alliance isn’t surprising consider what’s at stake for Texas, which is trying to protect smaller markets where American flies.

Krause thinks the main reason for this legal maneuver is to prevent American and U.S. Airways from controlling 70 percent of the take-off and landing slots at Reagan National Airport in D.C.

That’s brought complaints from competition like Southwest and Jet Blue.

Ultimately, he thinks the deal will be worked out.

“But there’ll have to be, one, an agreement on these landing slots, particularly at Reagan,” Krause said. “And then I think they’ll also want some sort of assurance that American – the new American – will continue to fly to cities like College Station or Waco.”

Tom Parsons with BestFares.com say he doesn’t think much will change for consumers.

“Even with these two airlines being separate, we still have seen fares go up. We still have seen higher fees,” Parsons said. “I think with these two guys blended together, I don’t see where it’s gonna go up any different than what we’ve seen over the last three or four years.”

Neither Parsons nor Krause believe the suit will ultimately ground the deal to create the world’s largest airline.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.