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The Deal: Airline Merger Could Mean Higher Prices, Senators Suggest

A key regulatory sticking point in the U.S. is the combined airline's substantial position at Washington's close-in Reagan National Airport, where it would control nearly 70% of takeoff and landing slots. Access to Reagan National is restricted due to the airport's congestion, and competitors including Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp. have been eager to gain increased access via slot divestitures.

US Airways has countered that the combination would control just one-quarter of the overall Washington market if two other airports, Washington Dulles International and Baltimore/Washington International, are included.

Deal advocates have also argued that allowing the combination to keep its full portfolio of slots likely would mean more flights between Reagan National and smaller markets, since competitors would likely be more interested in flying to large destinations that already have service to the airport.

Written by Lou Whiteman in New York

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