American, US Airways employees to rally for merger

U.S. Rep. Robert Brady is to speak.
U.S. Rep. Robert Brady is to speak.
Posted: September 19, 2013

Hundreds of employees of American Airlines and US Airways Group will rally Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol in support of the carriers' proposed merger, which would create the world's largest airline.

Attending the rally will be representatives of airline labor unions and members of Congress from Texas, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

U.S. Reps. Robert Brady (D., Pa.) and Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.) are among the listed speakers, who will say the $11 billion merger would be important for jobs, the region, and global air travel.

Though these local lawmakers support the merger, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, along with officials of five other states and the District of Columbia, have joined a Justice Department lawsuit to block it. The antitrust case is set for trial Nov. 25 in Washington.

"I'm in favor of creating jobs," said Brady, adding that he was puzzled by Kane's rationale for joining the lawsuit. "She does what she has to do, but I'm in favor of the merger.

"It's good for the whole state. It's good for the city," he said, referring to Philadelphia. "It's good for the unions, and it keeps people working, and maybe even creates a few more jobs."

Joe Peters, Kane's director of communications, said in a statement: "Our participation in this matter is intended to ensure that Pennsylvania's consumers are protected from the adverse effect of decreased competition.

"In addition, if this matter were to be settled, our continued involvement in this action will ensure Pennsylvania's voice in any settlement discussions," Peters said. "It also bears mentioning that previous airline mergers have resulted in significant job losses in Pennsylvania and elsewhere."

Meehan said the combined airline would be stronger and able to compete globally. "It has the potential to create great economic opportunities for Philadelphia" as a hub for the new, larger American.

"The connections to a global network will be a strong selling point for foreign companies looking to do business in our region," Meehan said. "This is the last great opportunity for two airlines to combine to create a significant player in the global marketplace."

U.S. Sens. Robert Casey (D., Pa.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) have not taken positions.

Casey "is letting the legal review take appropriate course, but he understands that this has potential to create jobs and grow the economy in Philadelphia," said spokeswoman April Mellody. "He, however, wants to make certain that the overall benefit makes sense for Pennsylvania."

Toomey spokeswoman E.R. Anderson said: "The USAir merger is currently before the courts. Sen. Toomey continues to follow the matter closely and looks forward to its resolution."

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa) said he is "on record" as supporting the merger and "applauded" when European Union regulators approved the deal.

Though the pros and cons can be debated, Fattah said, "on balance" the merger is "a better deal" for consumers. Philadelphia-area Chamber of Commerce CEOs also support the combination, he said.

"We have excellent travel to Europe, but we need business flights to the Pacific Rim," Fattah said. "The merger would strengthen Philadelphia as an international city." Competition would remain because of low-cost carriers such as Southwest, Spirit and JetBlue.

A spokesman for Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.) said, "The congresswoman has not yet made a decision on the merger. She is carefully weighing what the economic impact would be statewide to Pennsylvania. She is still looking into this right now."


Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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