Cordray looks into airline merger

Keith Loria Sep. 29, 2010, 5:00pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced on Tuesday that he will begin a preliminary review of a proposed airline acquisition.

Cordray, who became involved in the recent merger between Continental and United airlines, will start reviewing Southwest Airlines's planned purchase of AirTran Airways, as both air carriers are major operators in Ohio.

"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 available."

AirTran flies out of the Port Columbus International Airport, Akron-Canton Airport and Dayton International Airport, while Southwest flies out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Port Columbus.

For the Continental and United merger, Cordray reached an agreement with United that the newly configured company would keep the departure levels at Continental hub-Cleveland Hopkins Airport the same for at least the next five years.

Cordray is seeking to ensure that the Southwest/AirTran deal doesn't harm state residents.

"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," Cordray said.

Cordray is the co-chair of the Antitrust Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, which protects a marketplace where businesses compete to provide the best prices and services to consumers.

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