But the real damage from five years of industry consolidation shows up in airfares.
The average cost of a roundtrip domestic ticket — including baggage and reservation change fees — grew to $378.62 last year, up from $351.48 in 2008, when adjusted for inflation.
American and US Airways only overlap on 12 nonstop routes, mostly between each other’s hubs. Seven of them have no competition.
Even more worrisome to the government is the unfair advantage the new airline would have on connecting routes, where most fliers find the cheapest airfares.
For instance, American and US Airways are the only two airlines to offer one-stop service from Fresno, Calif. to Tampa, Fla. American offers three daily flights connecting in Dallas; US Airways has three connecting in Phoenix. In a merger, some of those flights are likely to disappear and fares could increase.
US Airways also often deeply undercuts other airlines on nonstop flights with cheaper, connecting tickets.
For instance, from Miami to Cincinnati, American recently offered a nonstop flight for $740. United Airlines and Delta Air Lines had connecting flights for the same price — $762. US Airways however offered a connecting flight for $471.
The government suggests that such cut-rate fares would disappear and cites an October 2012 internal analysis at American predicting that as proof.