Southwest, Allegiant offer contrasting views on proposed airline merger

Two of the largest airlines at McCarran International Airport have taken opposite positions on the proposed merger of US Airways and American Airlines.

Southwest, the local market leader, on Friday joined the anti-trust lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice to halt the deal. Southwest goes in with the hope of a verdict or settlement that would pry loose scarce takeoff and landing slots in New York and Washington, D.C., particularly at Reagan National Airport. But Southwest did not specify whether any of those would go to routes involving Las Vegas.

At an analysts conference on Thursday, however, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co. president Andrew Levy said he wants to see US Air and American joined. Previous mergers, notably Southwest and AirTran, have led to the reduction or elimination of service to small cities, Allegiant’s primary markets. “We will be happy to fill in the void whenever we see one,” he said.

Allegiant is now the fifth-largest carrier at McCarran, with 1.7 million passengers in the first nine months of this year. A combined US Air and American would become the second at 3.4 million, based on this year’s totals, although some past mergers have led to service cuts.