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"They didn’t have any problem with the Northwest-Delta merger, didn’t have any problem with United-Continental. Where did they think it was going to go?" said Robert Mann, an airline consultant who once worked at American.
Consumer advocates cheered the lawsuit.
"This is the best news that consumers could have possibly gotten," said Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance and member of a panel that advises the government on travel-consumer issues.
Last year, business and leisure travelers spent more than $70 billion on airfare in the United States.
Shares of both companies plunged on news of the lawsuit. US Airways shares fell $2.24, or 11.9 percent, to $16.58 in afternoon trading. AMR shares were taken off the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the company filed for bankruptcy protection but still trade over the counter. They were down $2.68, or 46.1 percent, to $3.13.
AMR and US Airways announced in February that they planned to merge into a carrier with 6,700 daily flights and annual revenue of roughly $40 billion. By passenger traffic, it would slightly eclipse United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, but all three would be similar in size.
AP Airlines Writers Scott Mayerowitz in New York and Joshua Freed in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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