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DOJ Opposes Airline Alliance

The United States is seeing a boom in air travel, but the Justice Department fears change, and not for the better, may be on the way.

CBS News Legal Correspondent Kristin Jeannette-Meyers reports that Northwest Airlines has bought a controlling interest in Continental, and other alliances are in the works at the four other top U.S. airlines.

The airlines claim this consolidation will make travel easier, allowing passengers to redeem mileage at several carriers and get their baggage checked through all the way to their final destination.

The Justice Department is not convinced. Claiming that these so-called "virtual mergers" will be bad for passengers, the DOJ has filed suit to block the Northwest/Continental alliance as a violation of antitrust law.

"We think it may be bad because as we go from a large number of competitors to fewer competitors, there is less interest really to compete on price," said one DOJ official.

Opponents say the mergers will result in fewer flights, especially to smaller cities.

The Justice Department challenge will take years to resolve. In the meantime, critics say the new alliances will mean a holiday every day for the airlines.

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