The Texas Tribune reports on the conclusion of a saga that I have regrettably not been writing about since the beginning. A few months ago, Dallas-based American Airlines announced a merger with Charlotte-based US Airways. The result would basically create four competitive airlines in the country (American, Delta, Southwest & United) with a single, much-smaller fifth participant (JetBlue).
Consolidating such a massive industry down to four participants is somewhat absurd. That is why the Department of Justice, led by Eric Holder, decided to sue for an anti-trust violation. The merger, they alleged, would unfairly reduce competition. I tend to agree with this view and, oddly enough, so did Greg Abbott, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate.
This made for strange bedfellows, as Abbott’s joining with the Democratic establishment was not the only such switch. State Senator Wendy Davis, now seen as a probable gubernatorial candidate, opposed the anti-trust lawsuit, thus supporting the merger. This was done in conjunction with familiar faces of the Texas GOP, including Abbott’s rival in the Republican primary, Tom Pauken, and the State’s Chamber of Commerce organizations.
Now, as the Tribune notes, Abbott has reversed course on the issue, now leaning in favor of the merger. The Attorney General maintains this was a settlement, and notes that American Airlines has agreed, in writing, to continue servicing many rural locations throughout the State as well as keeping DFW one of its largest hubs. However, many have already said that issues were previously resolved, and the issue is nothing more than allowing Abbott to reverse his position while still saving face. Davis, who represents part of the Metroplex in the legislature, has been incessantly critical of Abbott’s position, arguing it would cost jobs in the region.
Although this will certainly change the talking points in Texas politics, I doubt much will come of it on a national stage. The US DOJ, led by Holder (really Obama) will continue opposing this merger (as, in my humble opinion, they should). Just today, the trial was delayed because of the shutdown.
Long story short, don’t expect to be flying into Charlotte on American any time soon.