In what was a rare move, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott initially teamed up with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to oppose the merger involving Fort Worth-based American Airlines, but he has now reversed course.
Abbot’s said the new deal with American Airlines and U.S. Airways satisfies his concern that the merger would negatively impact services to some of Texas’ smaller airports.
"Not only that thousands of jobs will stay in the state of Texas, this agreement also ensures that 22 airports across the state, including a dozen of the smaller airports in rural Texas, will continue daily departures and arrivals," Abbott said.
Abbott said that in addition to ensuring daily service to airports across Texas, the agreement also guarantees that Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport will remain a hub and that, if the airlines merge, the headquarters will be located in Texas.
"Anything that we can do to protect the headquarters, protect the jobs, protect the future of American will be part of our interest that we will be happy to take a look at," Abbott said.
Tom Pauken, who is running against Abbott in the Republican primary for governor in 2014, was critical of Abbott's decision to join Holder in opposition to the merger when it was first announced.
Once Abbott reversed his action, Pauken quickly issued a statement to accuse his opponent of flip flopping under political pressure.
"It’s a shame that his office has once again interfered with the free market operation of a company with its 'binding agreement to maintain the merged company’s headquarters in the DFW metropolitan area.' This agreement has the look and feel of the legal coercion that big government types favor. Again, he’s lock-step with Eric Holder in the use of such a tactic."