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Feds sue to block airline merger

By Hugo Martin

Los Angeles Times

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:33 a.m. HST, Sep 22, 2013



A federal lawsuit to stop the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways could be good for penny-pinching fliers.

The legal challenge filed in August by the U.S. Department of Justice says that the deal to create the world's largest carrier would cut competition and lead to higher fares.

Until the lawsuit is settled or won by either side, don't expect the two airlines to raise fares and give federal authorities more reason to fight the merger, said Rick Seaney, chief executive of the fare monitoring site Farecompare.com.

"It's highly unlikely that they will initiate or go along with any fare hike," he said.

Other airlines can raise fares on their own, but hikes are usually revoked unless all of the major carriers match the increase, he noted. "They all basically have to come up as a group," Seaney said.

And so far this year, fare increases have been few.

For the first nine months of 2013, only two fare increases have been matched by all the major carriers. At the same time last year, six fare increases, ranging from $4 to $20 per round trip, had been adopted by all the major carriers.

Domestic airfares have increased 1 percent so far this year, compared with the same time last year.

The Justice Department's lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in a Washington courtroom starting Nov. 25.

Hello Kitty takes flight on EVA Air

Twenty-five years ago a giant black-and-white killer whale decorated the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines 737-300 as part of a promotional deal with Sea World.

A decade later All Nippon Airlines decorated the first of several planes with Pokemon characters. Southwest got heads to turn in 2009 when it put the image of a bikini-clad supermodel on the side of one of its jets.

On Wednesday the latest attention-grabbing jet lands at Los Angeles International Airport: the Hello Kitty plane.

A Boeing 777-300ER flown by Taiwan-based EVA Air and painted to honor the hugely popular feline will start to make three regular flights from LAX to Taipei.

Passengers on the plane might suffer from a Hello Kitty overdose. The cat will be on the pillow covers, and the hand soap and tissues in the bathroom. The flight attendants will be wearing Hello Kitty uniforms.

And if you need more Hello Kitty in your life, you can buy Hello Kitty items onboard, such as necklaces, pins, bags and aprons.






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