American agrees to daily flights from rural airports; Abbott drops objections to merger with US Airways

Marilyn Tennissen Oct. 1, 2013, 3:23pm

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Oct. 1 that American Airlines has agreed to continue daily service to rural airports when it mergers with US Airways.

The settlement agreement negotiated with the two airlines resolves the state’s objections to the proposed merger.  Additionally, the airlines entered into a binding agreement to maintain the merged company’s headquarters in the DFW metropolitan area.

Abbott said the result is a settlement agreement that serves the best interests of the state of Texas, continues daily air service to 22 airports across the state and preserves thousands of jobs across the state. Among the airports protected by the agreement is the Jack Brooks Regional Airport located in Jefferson County. 

“From the beginning, our focus has been on maintaining service to rural airports in Texas and protecting Texas jobs," Abbott said in a prepared statement. "Today’s agreement ensures that thousands of jobs will remain in Texas and that Texans traveling by air – especially those who fly in and out of rural cities across the state, including members of the military – will continue to benefit from daily flight service. The settlement secures common-sense concessions that are in the best interests of our great State.”

Abbott filed an anti-trust lawsuit in August along with five other states and the U.S. Department of Justice in an attempt to stop the proposed merger between American Airlines' parent, AMR Corp. and US Airways Group.

He said he was prompted by concerns about the potential for reduced airline service to several of Texas’ smaller airports, especially since members of the armed services rely almost exclusively on American Eagle flights from small regional airports located near military bases.

In addition to ensuring daily service to airports across Texas, the agreement also guarantees that Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport will remain a “hub” and that, if the airlines merge, the headquarters will be located in Texas, in the DFW metropolitan area.

Abbott had been concerned because American had merely stated its intention to keep the headquarters in the DFW area. He said his concerns are put to rest now that they have a legally-enforceable agreement that guarantees that the new American Airlines will maintain its headquarters in the DFW area.

In filing the antitrust lawsuit, Abbott and the DOJ maintained the merger would stifle competition, reduce services to some areas and raise ticket prices. American and US Airways have said the merger, which will create the world's largest airline, will boost the airline industry and increase competition with its major competitors. 

“The settlement is good for American Airlines’ customers, the communities it serves and its employees," Abbott said.  "Our negotiations confirmed that the airline will preserve competition in the marketplace, maintain important routes in Texas and protect jobs.”

Texas airports protected by the agreement include:

• Abilene Regional Airport
• Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
• Brownsville/South Padre Island Airport
• Corpus Christi International Airport
• Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport
• East Texas Regional Airport
• Easterwood Airport
• El Paso International Airport
• Houston William P. Hobby Airport
• Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport
• Jack Brooks Regional Airport
• Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport
• Laredo International Airport
• Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport
• McAllen-Miller International Airport
• Midland International Airport
• Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport
• San Angelo Regional Airport
• San Antonio International Airport
• Tyler Pounds Regional Airport
• Waco Regional Airport
• Wichita Falls Regional Airport

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