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Consumer group thinks US Air-American merger bad idea

PHOENIX — While executives work to finalize the merger between Tempe-based US Airways and American Airlines, one organization is making sure travelers get a fair shake.

Consumer Travel Alliance, a nonprofit group, recently took apart claims by the airlines that the deal will help consumers.

“The first problem is we’re going to be cutting competition by about 20 percent,” said Charlie Leocha, director of the nonprofit.

“We’re getting down to only four major network carriers, so it’s really changing the dynamics of competition,” he said.

Consumer Travel Alliance has worked in Washington D.C. the past four years. In a few months, Leocha will testify before Congress, making a case against the merger.

“We’re seeing passengers’ lives being upended, and for what good reason? It’s only a good reason from the executives’ point of view and from the creditors’ point of view,” Leocha said.

While he admits the merger will probably go through, Leocha thinks he has a good chance of establishing some new consumer-focused regulations, where price competition will still be in effect.

“Consumers can compare the full price of tickets with ancillary fee disclosures, and they’ll be able to have more protections in terms of their contracts of carriage. If we can get some of those things put into place there will be a silver lining for consumers,” he said.