Oberstar wants more serious antitrust review of United-Continental merger proposal
The chairman of the House of Representatives Transportation Committee expects a "more serious" antitrust review of the merger proposal by UAL Corp's United Airlines and Continental Airlines than was conducted for the last big combination of U.S. carriers.
Representative James Oberstar also told reporters on a conference call that U.S. airlines can compete without merging, and that big airlines, through consolidation and alliance networks, are seeking to "lock up" travel globally.
Oberstar believes there is a "different spirit" at the Justice Department on antitrust than during the more business-friendly Bush administration, which swiftly cleared the 2008 merger by Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines.
"I expect this administration to be more serious and to use the authority of its antitrust powers," Oberstar said.
United and Continental proposed a merger on Monday that would create the world's largest airline, surpassing Delta.
Analysts and other experts expect the Justice Department to clear the United/Continental proposal but could require some divestitures to enhance competition in certain markets.
Oberstar also said efforts by airlines to permit overseas ownership of U.S. carriers is irrelevant with mergers of big airlines that participate in global alliances.