NEW YORK (
US Airways Group
has hired renowned antitrust litigator Richard Parker, a partner at
O'Melveny & Myers
to fight the
Department of Justice
in court over the government's bid to stop the air carrier's $11 billion acquisition of
and its parent.
Parker's hiring, along with comments made by him and other members of the airlines' legal team, reinforced comments from DOJ antitrust chief Bill Baer Tuesday indicating that a settlement is not likely and the DOJ's challenge will go before a federal judge.
Parker was director of the competition bureau at the
Federal Trade Commission
and then agency's senior deputy director from 1998 to 2001. As head of the competition bureau he led the investigations into the mergers of
. As agency deputy director he was co-lead counsel for the FTC's successful bid for a federal court injunction against the merger of
and the combination of
. After his return to private practice at OMM, Parker successfully defended the
merger with Triton
against an FTC suit to block the deal. Parker earned his law degree from UCLA.
The airlines' legal counsel also include
partner Paul Denis, who represented US Air in the negotiations with the DOJ and
partner Joseph Sims, who represented American Airlines and its parent
Parker took a combative stand against the DOJ's suit during his remarks in a conference call Wednesday, Aug. 14. "They got this one wrong, very wrong," Parker said. "Both companies are looking forward with confidence to our day in court," he said. The DOJ's case, which argues that the merger will lead to higher air fares by reducing the number of competing legacy domestic airlines from four to three and making it easier for them to coordinate on pricing, does not take into account the benefits to consumers that he said will more than offset any reduction in competition. "There will be more flights to more destinations, domestic and international. And communities, including smaller communities, will be better served."