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Democratic members of Congress urge Obama, DOJ to allow US Airways merger

More than 65 Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday urged President Obama and the Department of Justice to end their opposition to the US Airways and American Airlines merger.

The Congress members, including one from North Carolina, said in a letter they believe bringing together No. 3 carrier American and No. 5 US Airways to create the nation’s biggest airline will be good for employees and consumers.

The letter is one of the most public displays of Congressional pressure on the Obama administration in favor of the merger.

The DOJ surprised airline executives this summer when it filed suit to block the merger, which the agency said would hurt competition and lead to higher airfares. The airlines say they’ll be able to compete more effectively with United Delta and Southwest if they’re allowed to combine.

“We believe DOJ’s legal challenge puts at risk the future economic security of our constituents, tens-of-thousands of unionized workers at both airlines, and the economic well-being of communities that we represent,” they wrote. “We urge your administration to reconsider its efforts to prevent the American and US Airways merger from going forward.”

Representative Mike McIntyre, of North Carolina’s 7th District signed the letter.

Charlotte would be the combined airline’s second-busiest hub, after Dallas/Forth Worth. US Airways has said it would likely increase flights to and from Charlotte after the merger.

A trial on the merger is scheduled for Nov. 25, in Washington, D.C. Both the airlines and the DOJ have said they’re open to a settlement, but neither has so far proposed one.

The airlines have pressured lawmakers to oppose the DOJ lawsuit, sending employees to Washington to lobby elected officials, and writing letters and taking out newspaper ads to pressure state attorneys general who joined the lawsuit to drop their support. Texas attorney general Greg Abbott dropped out of the lawsuit earlier this month.

Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo
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