AA and US Airways merger trial to begin in Nov. 25

Aug. 31, 2013 at 1:04 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- American Airlines and US Airways said they were "pleased" a federal judge in Washington ordered their merger trial to start in late November.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block a proposed merger between the airlines and had been pushing for the trial to start in March, The Dallas Morning News reported Friday.

The airlines had been pushing for a much earlier start to the trial, which is expected to last as long as 12 days, the newspaper said.

"We are pleased to have a trial date that will enable us to resolve this litigation in a reasonable time frame," the airlines said in a joint statement.

The airlines -- pointed to a clause in their merger agreement that allows either airline to walk away from the merger if regulatory hurdles are not resolved by Dec. 13. -- warned a delay in the trial could unwind the agreement, although both airlines have also said they are eager to merge.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly scheduled the trial to start Nov. 25, which makes a completion by Dec. 13 possible, the newspaper said.

Both sides are expected to focus their attention on the efficiencies of a merger. The airlines have said they would save $500 million in operating costs if they merged.

The Justice Department is concerned the $500 million figure is inaccurate.

While operating efficiency can be a benefit, if airlines eliminate parts of their flight schedules after they merge, that may reduce options for travelers.

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