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Will Congress Push US Airways and American On Merger?

Tomorrow, at 10:00 in the morning the U.S. House of Representatives will finally get back to work, as the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law holds a hearing on the proposed merger between US Airways and American Airlines. In the past, when airline corporations have merged, quality, reliability and customer service has suffered. Flight delays and cancellations have become more common, and airline customers have been asked to pay more for less.

The top leaders of US Airways and American Airlines haven’t been called to testify at tomorrow’s hearings, but two of many vice presidents from the merging companies will be present. Also testifying will be:

– Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition, which has written, “From a consumer standpoint – individual traveler or corporate travel department – there are few benefits to offset the negative impacts of this proposed merger that include reduced competition, higher fares and fees and diminished service to small and mid-size communities.”

– Christopher Sagers of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, an expert on then legal parameters of antitrust legislation and regulation of corporations

– Clifford Winston of the Brookings Institution, who notes that the problems in profitability in the airline industry are a result of the deregulation push of the 80s and 90s, and asks rhetorically, “Why, after all, should an industry that has ingeniously used free-market principles to squeeze the most revenue out of each middle seat be protected from competing in a real free market?”

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