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Airlines' Attorney: DOJ Got Merger Lawsuit 'Very Wrong'

Attorneys for US Airways and American Airlines say they won't make the first move to settle a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice attempting to block the airlines from merging.

The Justice Department contends the merger will make it easier for the remaining mega-airlines – Delta, United and American – to cooperate on prices, rather than compete.  That means airfares will go up and service will decline, warns the lawsuit.  But an attorney for US Airways and American, Rich Parker, says the DOJ is "very wrong."

"And I just want to say that at trial, the evidence is going to show that this is an industry that is uniquely difficult – impossible – in which to coordinate because there are thousands of fares changing every day," says Parker. "We are looking forward to our day in court."

American and US Airways contend that their routes are largely complementary and the combination will make them better able to compete with Delta and United. Both of those airlines are bigger because the Justice Department approved their recent mergers with Northwest and Continental.

American and US Airways were on the verge of gaining final approval for their own combination at a federal bankruptcy court hearing Thursday.

The DOJ lawsuit delays the deal by several months, at the least.  If it does end in a settlement, US Airways Attorney Paul Denis says there are "no plans whatsoever to sell, close or otherwise alter the Charlotte hub."