Tom Horne, Arizona AG, Fights to Block Airline Merger, Joins Lawsuit With DOJ, Other AGs

The planned merger between American Airlines and US Airways won't get off the ground if Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne gets his way.

Horne has joined a coalition of five other states, Washington DC and the US Department of Justice in a lawsuit that labels the airlines' plan to become the world's largest single carrier as "anticompetitive."

What Horne doesn't say in his news release about the fight is that, beyond the general problem of increased fares for everyone, a disaster looms locally with the likely uprooting of a major corporate headquarters.

Last year, Arizona-based economist Elliot Pollock estimated that a move to Texas by most of the current US Airways administration -- now based in Tempe -- could cost Arizona thousands of jobs and tens of millions in tax revenue.

Yet Horne's playing coy, echoing the anti-monopolistic concerns of the Justice Department, which has been investigating the planned merger for weeks. Horne released a statement about the lawsuit saying, "Competition is crucial for a vital economy . . . As the state's chief legal officer, it is my duty to maintain competitive markets in Arizona for the benefit of our citizens. This merger is anti-competitive, and Arizona consumers will be forced to pay millions of dollars more each year in increased airfare if it goes through as planned."

Those millions are a fraction of what Pollack's talking about in terms of a local hit, though.

Horne's trying to protect the province. Not that we can blame him -- but we find it interesting when Republicans whom you might think would normally support free-market principles are fighting a merger that would still leave competition in the field (though not much, according to Horne's release, which you can read by clicking here).