McCain criticizes proposed airline merger
From CNN's Kathleen Koch
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The powerful chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee has criticized the proposed merger between United Airlines and US Airways.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, joined by Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Washington, cautioned against approval of the planned merger, which was announced in May.
"We conclude whatever air travelers stand to gain from the merger is
outweighed by what they stand to lose," insisted McCain.
McCain's Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is holding a hearing Thursday on airline antitrust issues.
Both senators argued that the merger would lead to less competition and higher fares, and would encourage more consolidation by other airlines. American Airlines and Northwest Airlines are considering linking up, while Delta Airlines is expressing interest in Continental.
The lawmakers warn if all the mergers went through, the result would be the creation of three "mega-carriers" that would dominate 80 percent of the marketplace.
Sen. John McCain
McCain told CNN on Wednesday: "Complaints on the part of passengers are at an all time high, and I'm not sure that the trend in American airlines today is healthy for or beneficial to the American passenger."
In a statement, US Airways responded, "The professionals at the Department of Justice, with the advice of the Department of Transportation, are in the process of analyzing and evaluating the proposed United Airlines/US Airways Merger. The state attorneys general are conducting their own reviews."
"US Airways is actively participating in these processes and is confident that the merger will bring overwhelming consumer benefits and great opportunities for the communities we serve," the statement continued.
"There is an unprecedented guarantee of job security for more than 40,000 of our employees. We fully believe that their reviews will come to the positive conclusion that this merger is in the public interest and will significantly enhance domestic and international competition," US Airways said.
United Airlines could not be reached for comment.