In the days surrounding the announcement of a proposed merger with American Airlines last month, US Airways hired two additional lobbying firms in Washington to advocate on issues related to the merger.
US Airways tapped Chesapeake Enterprises on Feb. 13 — the day before announcing the $11 billion merger that would create the world’s largest airline — to lobby on House and Senate hearings and merger activities. Two days later, the airline retained the Gibson Group on issues relating to the proposed merger.
Handling the accounts are lobbyist Scott Reed, chairman of Chesapeake Enterprises and a former campaign manager for Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential run, and Joseph Gibson, formerly counsel for legislative affairs in the antitrust division of the Justice Department and chief antitrust counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.
The merger will ultimately need approval from antitrust regulators and the bankruptcy judge overseeing Chapter 11 proceedings for American Airlines’ parent company AMR Corp. While Congress has no formal role in the Justice Department’s merger review process, the hearings are a public forum for lawmakers to air potential concerns over the merger’s impacts on consumers.
The additional lobbying manpower adds to US Airways’ existing efforts to influence lawmakers in Washington. In 2012, the airline spent $2.8 million on federal lobbying and paid five outside firms: Podesta Group, Vandor Strategies, Cormac Group, Mercury Strategies and Ogilvy Government Relations.
US Airways declined to comment.