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   Justice Urged to Delay Airline Mergers Review
 
Mystery Company Challenges American for TWA
   Fox Market Wire
Trans World Airlines has a new suitor — one that's offering $1 billion for the beleaguered airline, twice what the parent company of rival American Airlines wants to pay.

The little-known Jet Acquisitions Group Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz., seeks to preserve TWA as an independent airline, retain most TWA employees and eventually expand the airline.

"With congressional hearings now underway to scrutinize the consolidation of the airline industry and its effects on competition and consumer prices, we believe our effort to thwart the trend toward consolidation is particularly timely," Jet Acquisitions spokesman Stanford E. Lerch said in a statement.

Michelle Tuchman, a spokeswoman for the company, would not provide details about the group, other than to say that it included "former airline executives and general investors."

Carl Icahn, the billionaire financier who formerly ran TWA, was not involved, she said.

Including the assumption of $3.5 billion in lease obligations and $1.7 billion that would be spent on expanding TWA's fleet, Tuchman said the total value of Jet Acquisitions' offer would be $6.2 billion.

American's bid for TWA included the acquisition of parts of US Airways from United Airlines and a large stake in a new start-up carrier for $1.8 billion in cash and $3.5 billion in lease obligations. American's proposal is awaiting approval by federal regulators.

"The way it's set up, anyone is free to bid," American spokesman John Hotard said in response to Jet Acquisitions' bid. "They're free to bid whatever they want."

A federal judge has extended the deadline for bids for TWA until Feb. 28.

"TWA will consider any higher and better legitimate offer," TWA spokeswoman Julia Bishop-Cross said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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