The Obama administration will carry out a dynamic antitrust review of the planned merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines but will not take longer than needed, said Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday.
Holder told lawmakers at a congressional hearing that political issues would not sway antitrust enforcers inspecting the proposal to create the world’s biggest commercial airline.
“I’m confident that we will give this a good, thorough, vigorous look and make a decision on the basis of that examination,” Holder expressed to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.
United, a unit of UAL Corp, and Continental proposed the deal valued at around $3.2 billion last week. Experts believe that it will be cleared by the Justice Department because of the overlap of common routes and no shared hubs.
Antitrust enforcers, according to experts, could need some divestiture to improve competition. The airlines hope for regulatory clearance by the end of 2010.
“We will take the time that is necessary for us to look at it, to make sure we are comfortable in the decisions that we are making, “said Holder. “We will not unnecessarily delay things, but we will certainly take the time that we need to come up with a reasoned decision.”
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said he’d be leading an effort to inspect the deal.
“A merger this large may have staggering ramifications for the industry, for consumers, and for the broader economy,” Cordray said. “Ohio has a lot on the line with this deal.
According to government statistics, Continental has more than 30 percent of market shares at its Cleveland hub. Both Texas and Ohio lawmakers have expressed concern in regards to the merger which would put the airline’s headquarters in Chicago.
Continental is based in Houston.