Oct. 19--The Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit against American Airlines and US Airways would carry into next year if the trial plays out in entirety.
The airlines and the Department of Justice have filed a proposed schedule outlining the day-by-day deadlines for the trial, starting with an exchange of final witness lists on Nov. 8 and the first day of trial on Nov. 25, which has already been stipulated by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.
The schedule puts the last day of the trial on Dec. 16 or 17, and after some other legal proceedings closing arguments wouldn't be made until Jan. 6.
American Airlines parent company AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Inc. have been eager to proceed with the trial and find a resolution, hopefully in their favor, so they can continue with the merger they have been working on for more than a year.
The Justice Department has thrice tried to delay the trial. First antitrust regulators wanted a February trial date, then they asked for a March date so it wouldn't conflict with another trial Kollar-Kotelly is scheduled to preside over in January.
DOJ lawyers again asked for more time because of the government shutdown, but their request was denied.
The proposed trial schedule would give about 10 or 12 days for arguments, then about two weeks for each side to prepare post-trial documents.
The Justice Department sued on Aug. 13 to block the proposed merger of the nation's fourth and fifth largest airlines, saying it would eliminate competition, reduce route choice and eventually raise prices on hundreds of flights nationwide.
Executives at the airlines contend the merger would give a viable alternative for consumers to the nation's other major carriers, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines. The merger would create the world's largest airline, with some 100,000 employees.
American Airlines employees about 6,300 people in Tulsa, mainly at the company's primary maintenance and overhaul facility at Tulsa International Airport.
American Airlines' bankruptcy reorganization case has been put on hold for the antitrust lawsuit, although a bankruptcy judge has approved its plan to merge with US Airways, pending the outcome of the antitrust trial.
During the next five weeks lawyers for the Justice Department and the airlines still have several deadlines and requirements that will determine what evidence, witnesses and arguments will be allowed at the trial.
The Justice Department got a small victory last week when the court said the airlines were not entitled to documents from DOJ investigations into this and other mergers.
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380
Proposed key dates in American Airlines-US Airways antitrust trial.
Nov. 8: Parties exchange final witness lists
Nov. 12: Parties exchange final exhibit lists
Nov. 20: Close of expert discovery
Nov. 21: Pretrial conference
Nov. 25: First day of trial (per prior order)
Dec. 16 or 17: Estimated last day of trial
Jan. 6: Closing arguments
Copyright 2013 - Tulsa World, Okla.
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