Judge dismisses antitrust lawsuit against American Airlines

Saturday, April 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ A federal judge dismissed the government's antitrust lawsuit against American Airlines accusing the carrier of predatory practices.

In granting the summary judgment Friday, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten said the Department of Justice failed to make its case.

In a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Wichita, Kan., in May 1999, the government had accused American of monopolizing and attempting to monopolize passenger service to and from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the nation's third largest airport.

American was accused of repeatedly trying to drive small, start-up airlines out of the airport by saturating their routes with additional flights and cutting fares. After the competitors withdrew or drastically reduced their service, American re-established high fares and reduced its service, the government alleged.

American said it did nothing wrong and merely competed in a market place.

``What American did was to meet the competition. We made the same prices available that the new entrants chose to sell,'' said Trey Nicoud, associate general counsel for the Fort Worth-based carrier.

He said the ruling was ``welcome news indeed...that no additional expenditures need to be spent.''

The case had been scheduled to go to trial May 22.

``Obviously we are disappointed with the court's ruling,'' Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said Friday afternoon. ``We won't have any further comment until we have an opportunity to review the decision and consider our options.''

The government had alleged that American's tactics were successfully employed against three new entrants into the Dallas-Fort Worth market: Vanguard, Sun Jet and Western Pacific.