A U.S. Court of Appeals panel last week dismissed a petition by America West Airlines Inc. for a review of the Department of Transportation order approving the takeover of Piedmont Aviation Inc. by Washington-based USAir Group Inc.

America West, which has its headquarters in Phoenix, had opposed the merger, arguing that it would make it harder for airlines like America West to penetrate certain markets, including Washington's. According to America West, the merger would make it more difficult to obtain landing slots at Washington National Airport and LaGuardia Airport in New York by increasing concentration at those airports where the number of landing rights -- or slots -- is limited.

The three-judge panel ruled that neither of America West's complaints stemmed from the DOT order approving the merger. "America West has simply failed to demonstrate that the reversal of the final order would result in its acquisition of any slots at either airport," according to the ruling. The slots' issue is more properly addressed in a proceeding under way at the DOT reviewing the federal government's policy restricting slots, the judges said.

USAir acquired Piedmont Nov. 4, after receiving DOT approval for the combination, which resulted in the nation's seventh-largest airline company.

John E. Gilick, an attorney for America West, said the company was "disappointed by the decision" and is reviewing its options.