A bankruptcy judge has approved the settlement between the Department of Justice and AMR Corp., American Airlines' parent company, clearing the way for its $11 billion merger with US Airways. American officials have said the merger will be implemented on Dec. 9.
The ruling by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York also means the carriers can go ahead and merge despite the presence of a private antitrust lawsuit.
Justice, along with the attorneys general from six states and the District of Columbia, had reached a settlement with the carriers Nov. 13 that called for the merged American to divest 69 slot pairs at New York LaGuardia and Washington Reagan National Airport along with two slot pairs at five other airports. Southwest, JetBlue and other carriers are expected to bid on the slots, which will be sold under Justice-approved procedures. Delta Air Lines officials are among representatives from the larger airlines who are also looking to gain more traction at airports.
Before the settlement with Justice, American and US Air were to go to trial over the lawsuit on Nov. 25. European regulators approved the deal
in August after American agreed to release slots at London Heathrow.
The deal has faced criticism from all sides, even after Justice and the carriers agreed on a settlement. On Nov. 12, a group of Congressmen wrote
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx a letter expressing concern that the merger would lead to the cessation of critical service to small, regional airports.