Judge denies DOJ request to delay airline trial

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge ruled Tuesday that a November trial on the antitrust lawsuit against the merger of American Airlines and US Airways will go ahead as scheduled despite the government shutdown.

The U.S. Justice Department asked for a delay, saying that the shutdown would hinder its ability to prepare for the trial in Washington.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said that merger had already been delayed by the lawsuit, and that American needs to resolve the antitrust case to complete its bankruptcy reorganization.

Postponing the trial, she wrote, “would delay the necessary speedy disposition of this matter. It is essential that the Department of Justice attorneys continue to litigate this case.”

The merger was weeks away from closing when the government sued to block it on Aug. 13.

Tom Horton, the CEO of American Airlines parent AMR Corp., said the government shutdown shouldn’t affect timing of the trial.

“As I understand, their people (Justice Department lawyers) are still on the job,” he said. “They’ll keep working hard at it. We’ll be ready.”

Horton made the comments after a news conference in which the Texas attorney general announced he was pulling out of the lawsuit. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he reached a settlement: The airlines promised to keep their combined headquarters in Fort Worth, maintain a hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and keep serving 22 cities in Texas. Horton said the agreement was for three years.

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