The gov­ern­ment has under­stood in the past that the air­line industry may have been too com­pet­i­tive, resulting in a bank­ruptcy by almost every single major car­rier, and so the gov­ern­ment per­mitted some mergers,” said Harlan Platt, a finance pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity who spe­cial­izes in air­lines and cor­po­rate gov­er­nance. “But even­tu­ally you get to the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and this merger was prob­ably being viewed in the Jus­tice Depart­ment as that straw.”

But some ana­lysts said the law­suit over­sim­pli­fies the state of the industry. It largely ignores South­west, which car­ries more domestic pas­sen­gers than any other US air­line and has made it harder for com­peti­tors to raise prices. The mergers have also made the sur­viving air­lines more effi­cient and prof­itable, allowing car­riers to make improve­ments to their service.

It’s prob­ably better for the industry overall and poten­tially for the con­sumer in the long run to have three or four very strong, very healthy com­peti­tors,” said Peter Belobaba, an avi­a­tion researcher at MIT.

Read the article at The Boston Globe →