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The Deal: Delta Drops as Airline Exits Memphis Hub

Cohen was one of a number of lawmakers to speak out about the AMR-US Airways deal at a U.S. House of Representative hearing in February. And although the deal does not need congressional approval, lawmakers could use reports of hub closures stemming from past consolidation to pressure the Justice Department into taking a hard line when reviewing this latest merger.

In the Senate, Antitrust Subcommittee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has asked the DOJ to analyze the AMR-US Airways deal in part by putting the mergers between Delta and Northwest as well as UAL Corp. and Continental Airlines Inc. in context, examining how those mergers affected prices, fees and airline service.

But while Delta's action might increase the scrutiny on AMR and US Airways, it has done little to change the conventional wisdom that the deal will eventually win approval.

"It is still a matter of when the deal goes through, not if," one transportation source said. "The Delta headlines help make the argument against consolidation, but it does not change the outcome of the debate."

Written by Lou Whiteman in New York

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