U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today underscored the importance of competition in the airline industry to keep airfares and fees low for consumers, maintain high-quality service and ensure passenger safety at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing about the proposed American Airlines-US Airways merger. At the hearing, Klobuchar pressed airline executives about the proposed merger's impact on consumers and competition. Yesterday, Klobuchar, along with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood urging the Administration to examine concerns over the merger that were raised at a Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing earlier this year. Klobuchar chairs the subcommittee, and a Lee is the ranking member.
"Whether it's a family looking for affordable flights or a small business-owner looking for the best frequent flier program, we need to make sure consumers have as many choices as possible at the lowest prices, and that no airline or small group of airlines has a stranglehold on the market," Klobuchar said."This hearing was a good opportunity to continue to examine the merger's potential impact on fares, fees, jobs, service and safety, and I will continue to work to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect consumers and boost competition in the airline industry."
Witnesses at the hearing included Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of US Airways Group; Gary Kennedy, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of American Airlines, Inc.; Susan Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs; Gerald Dillingham, Director of Aviation Issues for the Government Accountability Office (GAO); and Charles Leocha, Director of Consumer Travel Alliance.
Klobuchar has been a leader in Congress on working to advance consumer protection and promote competition. Last month, Klobuchar and Lee held an Antitrust Subcommittee hearing on the American Airlines-US Airways merger and questioned airline executives and antitrust experts about the proposed merger's impact on consumers and competition. They also wrote a letter urging DOJ and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to use all available data to examine past airline mergers and assess whether the merged airlines have realized the efficiencies they promised to both agencies.