US Airways

(UAIRQ)

and

America West

(AWA)

are one step closer to consummating their merger, having received the blessing of antitrust enforcers.

The airlines said late Thursday that they had been informed by the Justice Department that it has completed its review of their proposed deal.

The carriers

announced their merger on May 19, saying it would create a full-service nationwide airline with discount prices. The plan would significantly increase America West's scale and lift US Airways out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Analysts have said it faces significant challenges, including meshing two labor groups with different seniority levels.

The airlines have said they plan to close the merger this fall. They must still get approval from other parties, including America West shareholders, US Airways creditors, the court overseeing US Airways' bankruptcy and the Air Transportation Stabilization Board, which has guaranteed loans to both airlines.

Separately, US Airways said late Thursday that it will generate about $100 million by selling regional jets and airport slots to

Republic Airways

(RJET)

. Republic will continue to operate the jets on regional routes under the US Airways Express banner. US Airways had the option to sell the planes under a deal struck in March with Republic and Republic's affiliate Wexford Capital LLC.

The sale will bolster US Airways' coffers as it prepares to emerge from bankruptcy ahead of the merger.

The March deal also could have allowed Republic and Wexford to invest $125 million in US Airways stock after it emerges from bankruptcy. But US Airways says it will not request that investment because other equity investors have since stepped in to finance the merger with America West.