Oct. 01--In a two-page filing made in federal court this morning, the U.S. Department of Justice asked a judge to temporarily halt the antitrust case against American Airlines and US Airways because of the government shutdown.
Separately, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and American Airlines CEO Tom Horton scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference today at DFW Airport. Texas is one of seven states that joined the Justice Department lawsuit, citing concerns that a merger would lead to reduced air service in the state.
The government attorneys say that because of the lack of funding from Congress, they are prohibited from working.
"Although we greatly regret any disruption caused to the Court and the other litigants, the United States hereby moves for a stay of all proceedings in this case until funding is restored and Department of Justice attorneys are permitted to resume their usual civil litigation functions," the filing said.
In the filing, they indicated that American and US Airways attorneys object to the request to suspend the case. Attorneys for American and US Airways said the airlines do not plan to file a legal response to the DOJ's request.
The two sides are scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 25 in a federal court in Washington, D.C.
At a pre-trial hearing today, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said that the trial will continue as previously scheduled. Arguments should take twelve to fifteen days with the trial wrapping up in mid-December. She did not directly address the DOJ's request for a stay.
According to media reports, the judge also indicated that she may not rule on the case until early January. The carriers had hoped a decision on the antitrust suit would come before the holidays.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: DOJ asks court for temporary halt in antitrust case against airlines
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