Government Says American, US Airways Not Entitled to Documents

Sept. 26--Government attorneys argued Thursday that American Airlines and US Airways should not be allowed to view internal documents on how the Justice Department analyzed the pending merger between the airlines.

In filings in federal court, Justice Department lawyers said how the government analyzed and approved previous airline mergers, such as the combination of United and Continental, is irrelevant to its antitrust case against the American-US Airways merger.

"Such confidential assessments and internal deliberations are plainly privileged and no court has ever ordered similar disclosures by federal antitrust enforcement officials (or by state officials), as far as we know," a filing said.

Attorneys for American and US Airways had asked the court to force the Justice Department to turn over documents as the two sides prepare for a trial set for Nov. 25.

In August, the department and several state attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit to stop the merger, saying it would harm consumers with higher fares and more fees.

The department also told the court that American and US Airways attorneys are not entitled to third-party interviews conducted during an investigation of the merger.

"The Supreme Court has held that an interrogatory constituting a 'naked, general demand' for all facts learned in non-party interviews -- the very interrogatory defendants propound here -- necessarily reveal the opinions and mental processes of counsel, and therefore is improper," a second filing said.

Separately, American filed a lawsuit in Texas district court this week saying the travel reward tracking website Superfly is infringing on the airline's trademarks and violating a settlement that the two companies reached last year.

According to a lawsuit filed in Tarrant County, American alleges that Superfly is improperly using AAdvantage frequent-flier information by storing and displaying member records on the Superfly website.

The suit also says Superfly is violating the agreement by allowing AAdvantage members to manually enter their frequent-flier miles on Superfly.

The airline sued over this issue in 2012 and reached a settlement. Superfly is an Israeli-based website that allows travelers to store all their frequent-flier and hotel reward points on one site.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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