American Airlines and US Airways have filed a motion to set a trial date after the Department of Justice sued to block the two companies from merging earlier this month.
The proposed day in court is November 12, which would give both parties just under three months to prepare (the DOJ filed its lawsuit August 12).
The DOJ requested 180 days, but the airlines say waiting that long “would be unprecedented and unreasonable,” given that American Airlines is in bankruptcy.
In a statement, US Airways Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said both companies are willing to fight for the right to merge in court:
We are eager to show that the DOJ’s action would deny millions of customers access to a more competitive airline that will offer customers what they want, delivering significant benefits to consumers, communities and employees.
The new American Airlines is predicated on growth. This merger is the foundation of American’s plan to exit bankruptcy and is the cornerstone of American’s and US Airways’ plan to form a more competitive and cost-effective airline to take on the country’s largest air carriers — Delta, United Airlines, and Southwest — and a number of fast-growing low-cost carriers, including Virgin America, JetBlue, Spirit, and Allegiant.
We are committed to resolving this litigation and, if necessary, will pursue all legal options in order to achieve this merger.
The DOJ’s move to block the merger was a surprise, given that it has given the green light to three major airline combinations in the past five years.
Its refusal to let American and US Airways join forces is a sign that the department has drawn a line in the sand and wants to move from keeping airlines profitable (by allowing them to merge) to keeping fares low for consumers (by mandating competition).
This story was originally published by Mergers & Inquisitions.