Airport president still hopeful for US-Air, American merger

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SARASOTA-- The Justice Department and six Attorneys General are suing to block a merger between US-Air and American Airlines, and not everyone is pleased with the decision.

Government officials claim that travelers will be negatively impacted if the merger happens, saying it would hurt competition and cost travelers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in higher fares and fees.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is joining forces with the Justice Department in the effort to block the merger.

“This merger would be anti-competitive and harmful to consumers, with 20 percent of the problematic flight routes affecting Florida. By filing this lawsuit, we hope to save consumers from potential multi-million dollar increases in prices and fees,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Ask Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport President Rick Piccolo how he feels about the lawsuit, and he'll share a different story.

"It's hard to understand what the reasoning is by saying it's anti-competitive when they approved the Delta merger with Northwest, the United Merger with Continental and the Southwest merger with Air Tran," said Piccolo.

Piccolo believes his airport will benefit from the merger, resulting in more flights to new cities.

"A merger would open up the likelihood of Dallas service, to the American hub there, and to American's hub in Miami," said Piccolo.

American and US-Air announced Tuesday they intend to "mount a vigorous and strong defense."

The last time the Justice Department got between an airline merger was 12 years ago when United and US-Air attempted to join forces.