Wed, Sep 29, 2010
Antitrust Review Will Focus On Effect Of Transaction On
Price, Flight Availability In Ohio
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray pledged Tuesday to open a
preliminary review of Southwest Airlines' announced acquisition of
AirTran Airways. Both Southwest and AirTran, respectively the
nation's largest and eighth largest carriers by passenger count,
are major airline operators in Ohio: AirTran currently flies out of
the Port Columbus International Airport, Akron-Canton Airport and
Dayton International Airport; Southwest flies out of Cleveland
Hopkins International Airport and Port Columbus.
"We are going to undertake a careful review of this deal,"
Cordray said. "These are significant carriers that provide
important services to Ohio travelers and businesses - for instance,
AirTran alone accounts for slightly more than half of the
passengers at the Akron-Canton Airport. We are going to examine
whether this deal would make those services more expensive or less
Cordray's decision to open a preliminary review of this
transaction comes on the heels of his office's antitrust
investigation into the merger between Continental and United
airlines. The result, announced earlier this month, was an
agreement between the Attorney General's office and United that the
newly-configured airline maintain departure levels at Cleveland
Hopkins Airport - which is currently a Continental hub - for at
least the next five years.
Cordray emphasized that the Southwest/AirTran review is
preliminary, but it could lead to a full investigation involving
other states, as was the case in the Continental-United merger.
"After the Continental-United investigation was completed, I
heard from a business owner in the Cleveland area who thanked my
office for getting involved because, if air service at Hopkins was
cut back, he said he probably would have to move his business,"
Cordray said. "Access to competitively priced air travel is vital
to Ohio's long-term economic health, and I am committed to fighting
for that access whenever I can."
The Antitrust section of the Ohio Attorney General's office
enforces state and federal antitrust law. In so doing, it works to
protect a marketplace where businesses compete to provide the best
prices and services to consumers. It also operates the Antitrust
Review Program, which seeks to protect taxpayers from
anti-competitive activity in public projects. Cordray is the
co-chair of the Antitrust Committee of the National Association of
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