Hastings Urges Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to Support Merger Between American Airlines and US Airways

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Washington, D.C. , September 27, 2013 | comments

Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), along with Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Ted Deutch (FL-21), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Joe Garcia (FL-26), and Patrick Murphy (FL-18), sent the following letter to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi urging her to withdraw her support from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) lawsuit to block the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. (Please find a copy of the letter attached and below).

September 27, 2013

The Honorable Pam Bondi
Attorney General
State of Florida
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Dear Attorney General Bondi:
On behalf of our respective communities, airline employees, and the flying public, we write to express our deep disappointment about your decision to support the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recent federal lawsuit against the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.  While we share your concern for ensuring robust market competition and protecting consumers, preventing this merger from proceeding will not only have the opposite effect, but negatively impact tens of thousands of American jobs.  A successful merger between American Airlines and US Airways represents a responsible path forward in the highly competitive airline industry, giving the combined company the resources it needs to compete with the country’s two largest carriers, United and Delta, as well as internationally.  Therefore, we urge you to withdraw your support from the DOJ’s lawsuit, and allow the merger to resume.
As you well know, the DOJ has approved three major airline mergers within recent years: Delta and Northwest in 2008, United and Continental in 2010, and Southwest and Air Tran in 2011.  The DOJ’s lawsuit against the merger of American Airlines and US Airways is inconsistent with its previous actions and industry reality, as well as risks putting both companies at a severe competitive disadvantage in an increasingly duopolistic market.  Left to operate separately, American Airlines and US Airways will not have the market share, size, and scale to best compete with larger carriers or offer consumers more competitive fares.  Instead of having three major global competitors to choose from, consumers will be faced with just two that have less incentive to price their services more competitively.  On the other hand, American Airlines and US Airways have far fewer route overlaps than either of the previously approved mergers, and the combined company will be comparable in fleet size to United and Delta. 
Since the previous mergers were approved, the airline industry has added relatively little capacity while passenger air travel has risen.  Once the largest of “legacy” carriers, American Airlines has made a commendable effort to remain independent despite increased economic pressure.  Since filing for bankruptcy protection in November 2011, it has taken considerable steps to reduce labor costs and renegotiate aircraft and other leases, while continuing to make the investments necessary to stay competitive and transform itself into a flagship carrier with a 21st century fleet.  We believe that American Airlines has demonstrated its intention to remain an industry leader, and that the proposed merger with US Airways will allow it to exit bankruptcy swiftly and more effectively compete.
Furthermore, the merger between American Airlines and US Airways enjoys overwhelming support from their unions, as well as investors, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and other stakeholders.  For years, the hardworking employees of both airlines have made great sacrifices to help strengthen their companies amid changing conditions that have caused many carriers to go out of business, communities to lose service, and workers to lose jobs. This merger will mean increased job security and new opportunities for the workers of American Airlines and US Airways, as well as those communities served by the combined airline.  The DOJ’s lawsuit to prevent the merger proposal before bankruptcy court approval has already caused harm to US Airways pilots who have been working for a below-scale wage for a decade, and stood to gain $1.6 billion in wages and benefits from a new contract over six years.
Finally, we remain concerned by the negative economic impact that an unsuccessful merger will have on our communities, the State of Florida, and our nation as a whole.  Our Congressional districts are home to several major airports, including Miami International Airport (MIA), Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL), Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), Orlando International Airport (MCO), Tampa International Airport (TPA), and Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), that connect Florida to other hubs and destinations in the United States.  These airports are vitally important to tapping Florida’s economic potential by supporting the flow of tourism and commerce with Latin America and the Caribbean.  In addition, American Airlines and US Airways currently support thousands of jobs in Florida.  Given that one airline job translates into approximately 17 additional jobs, including in related sectors such as airports, aircraft manufacturing, and suppliers, this merger stands to benefit millions more. 
American Airlines and US Airways have proposed a merger agreement that will allow them to provide competitive services to air travelers, better pay and benefits for their employees, and support economic growth in Florida.  Rather than help foster greater market competition, the DOJ’s lawsuit will effectively pick winners and losers at the cost of airline workers and consumers.  This merger is a tremendous opportunity that will impact the future of our airline industry for years to come.  Withdrawing your support from the DOJ’s lawsuit will help ensure that Floridians and all Americans have more choices when they travel.  We thank you for your attention to this important matter, and look forward to your response.

Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress

  Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Member of Congress 

Ted Deutch
Member of Congress
Frederica Wilson
Member of Congress

Lois Frankel
Member of Congress
Patrick E. Murphy
Member of Congress

Joe Garcia
Member of Congress

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation. 


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