Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to evaluate the potential impact of the proposed merger between US Airways and American Airlines on consumers and fare prices in southwestern Pennsylvania.
"Competitive air service is important to the health of the southwestern Pennsylvania economy," wrote Senator Casey. "As choice has decreased, fare prices have also increased, causing many of our Pittsburgh residents to no longer be able to travel to certain destinations. Often times this has forced residents to drive hours to other states to find affordable service."
A potential reduction in air service for Pittsburgh would impact businesses, consumers and travelers. Currently, U.S. Airways and American Airlines both provide service to JFK and LaGuardia, and the potential merger may put that service at risk. These destinations are critical to providing consumers with choices and competitive fares into the New York market, a singularly important destination and primary hub for international connections.
The full text of Senator Casey's letter can be seen below:
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
As the Department of Justice (DOJ) moves forward with its review of the proposed merger of US Airways and American Airlines, I ask that you carefully and thoroughly analyze the potential impacts on consumer choice and fare price competition at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and for consumers across southwestern Pennsylvania. In light of the negative repercussions of previous mergers on the Pittsburgh region and other mid-sized cities, I urge you to take every appropriate step during the review process to ensure that consumers in southwestern Pennsylvania are not harmed as a result of this merger.
Competitive air service is important to the health of the southwestern Pennsylvania economy. As result of the closure of the US Airways hub in 2004 following the US Airways-America West merger, the region has experienced a dramatic reduction in air service that is hurting consumers, businesses and an otherwise dynamic regional economy. PIT currently has 50 percent of the flights it did in 2004, and travelers today can access only 36 non-stop destinations as compared to 113 in 2004. As choice has decreased, fare prices have also increased, causing many of our Pittsburgh residents to no longer be able to travel to certain destinations. Often times this has forced residents to drive hours to other states to find affordable service.
Further loss of choice and competition will greatly hinder companies and travelers throughout southwest Pennsylvania. I have seen reports stating that the merged airline would control 90 percent of passenger traffic between Pittsburgh and Dallas, one of the largest hubs and connection points. I understand that both US Airways and American Airlines currently provide overlapping service from Pittsburgh into the New York market, placing that service at risk. Preserving service to both JFK and LaGuardia is critical to providing consumers with choices and competitive fares into the New York market, a singularly important destination and primary hub for international connections.
For these reasons, I believe it is vital that the review of the merger evaluate impacts on consumers in southwestern Pennsylvania and I have also expressed my concerns to the airlines. It is essential that every effort is made to maintain and enhance consumer choice in the Pittsburgh region. I appreciate your attention to my views.
Robert P. Casey Jr.
United States Senator