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Originally published Friday, August 30, 2013 at 6:31 PM

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Trial set on airlines’ megamerger

American Airlines and US Airways will have a Nov. 25 trial date, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly decided, turning down a Justice Department request to delay the trial until March.

McClatchy Washington Bureau

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WASHINGTON — The trial in the government’s antitrust lawsuit against the creation of the world’s largest airline will begin Nov. 25, a federal district judge decided Friday.

American Airlines and US Airways wanted their day in court before the end of the year in hopes of salvaging their $11 billion merger, while the Justice Department wanted more time to prepare.

“It’s a big case,” said Mark Ryan, director of litigation in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

But federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who has presided over other antitrust cases, rejected the government’s request for a trial date in March, calling it “too far off.”

The judge also seemed wary of the government’s request for pretrial 50 depositions. The airlines planned to take only 10.

“This is not U.S. v. Microsoft,” said Rich Parker, a lawyer for US Airways, referring to one of the judge’s past antitrust cases.

In a preview of the trial’s substance, Parker noted that the Justice Department had given its blessing to three large mergers in recent years, and he accused the government of trying to change the rules.

Ryan cited concerns with the deal, including the transparency of pricing, the possibility of anticompetitive coordination with other airlines and the end of head-to-head competition for numerous city pairs.

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