Attorney General Eric Holder said the agreement would ensure more competition on nonstop and connecting routes throughout the country. The department said the divestitures were the largest ever for an airline merger.
The companies expect to complete the merger in December. As soon as the deal closes, the airlines will coordinate prices and schedules as if they were one, but combining the fleets will take months or years, executives said.
Six states had joined the lawsuit to block the merger, fearing the loss of flights and jobs at their airports. The Justice Department said that American and US Airways agreed to maintain for three years the US Airways hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix and American hubs at Miami, Chicago's O'Hare Airport, New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International.
If the settlement is accepted, the combined American and US Airways would operate 44 fewer daily departures at Reagan National and 12 fewer at LaGuardia than they would have without concessions. But the new American will still be the biggest carrier at Reagan National. The two airlines run about 290 takeoffs a day at Reagan National — about two-thirds of the airport's total — and 175 at LaGuardia now.
Standard & Poor's analyst Jim Corridore said the airlines gave up more than he expected but the settlement shouldn't change the financial benefits of the mergerto the companies.