(Reuters) – The Justice Department wants US Airways and American Airlines to divest landing and take-off slots at Reagan National and other “key” U.S. airports as a condition to drop its effort to block a proposed merger, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday.
Share prices in the airlines jumped as Holder seemed to offer a path to an agreement, three weeks before the scheduled start of a trial on November 25.
The bankrupt AMR Corp (AAMRQ.PK), parent of American Airlines, closed up 24.5 percent in heavy volume, while those of US Airways (LCC.N) at one point rose more than 5 percent to their highest in almost six years before retreating to close up 1.2 percent.
Holder said that talks with the companies were ongoing and he hoped for an agreement before the trial is due to start.
The Justice Department’s complaint focused on the carriers’ dominant position at Reagan National, outside Washington, and on more than 1,000 city pairings that American and US Airways now dominate. It said the merger would reduce choice for travelers and lead to higher fares.