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Originally published Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 7:58 AM

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AA, BA line up airports, pols to back immunity bid

American Airlines said Tuesday that dozens of politicians from Congress to city halls back its request to work more closely with British Airways on trans-Atlantic flights.

DALLAS —

American Airlines said Tuesday that dozens of politicians from Congress to city halls back its request to work more closely with British Airways on trans-Atlantic flights.

American is asking the Transportation Department for immunity from U.S. antitrust laws so it can share pricing and other information with BA, Iberia Airlines, Finnair and Royal Jordanian.

A public comment period on the request ended Monday, and a decision is expected by fall.

According to American, 28 senators, 113 members of the U.S. House, 110 mayors and 39 governors from California's Arnold Schwarzenegger to New York's David Paterson signed letters supporting its immunity bid.

American and BA say immunity will let them compete fairly against two other groups of airlines that are already allowed to work together on prices, schedules and other details.

Critics, such as Virgin Atlantic Airways head Richard Branson, say American and BA are already too dominant at London's Heathrow Airport, and immunity will lead to higher fares on U.S-U.K. routes.

In a regulatory filing, Virgin Atlantic - which competes with BA and American at Heathrow - said immunity would let the other two carriers "use their market power to raise fares, lessen service levels and inhibit innovation."

The list of politicians supporting American's bid for antitrust immunity can be found at http://www.moretravelchoices.com.

The Fort Worth-based unit of AMR Corp. has compiled lists of political backers before, including then-U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, who signaled his support for the immunity bid last year. After becoming Transportation secretary, LaHood recused himself from considering the American request, agency spokesman Bill Mosley said.

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