A major hurdle preventing a merger between US Airways and American Airlines was cleared Tuesday after both airlines reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general in six states and the District of Columbia, which sued in August to prevent the airlines from combining.
If the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approves the settlement and other legal proceedings are finished, the airlines expect to complete the merger sometime next month.
For airline customers using Yeager Airport, the merger would mean increased access to destinations served by airlines participating in the "oneworld" airline alliance.
From Yeager Airport, U.S. Airways operates five daily direct flights to Charlotte and five daily direct flights to Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C. American Airlines operates one daily direct flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Officials were pleased with the turn of events, as the airport's board had been publicly supporting the merger over the last few months.
"I am happy to see that the issues were resolved without having to go to trial," Yeager Airport Director Rick Atkinson said.
Earlier this year, the airlines announced plans to combine as American emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which it filed for in 2011.
However, the Justice Department and attorneys general in Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia and D.C. filed a civil suit in August to stop the $11 billion merger, saying it "would have substantially lessened competition for commercial air travel in local markets throughout the United States," resulting in higher airfares and less service.
The merger as originally proposed also would have resulted in a combined airline that would control nearly 70 percent of flights to and from Reagan National, the department said.
Under the terms of the agreement, the two airlines will have to divest, or get rid of, 52 slot pairs at Reagan National and 17 slot pairs at LaGuardia Airport in New York City.
At those airports, high demand for flights has resulted in a limited number of available takeoff and departure times, or "slots." A takeoff and landing together is known as a "slot pair" in that situation.