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Report: Airline Probe Widens

Federal regulators are investigating whether the nation's four biggest airlines used predatory tactics to drive smaller competitors out of major airports, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The Justice Department widened an antitrust investigation against the major carriers, sending subpoenas to at least four small airlines to seek information on the larger companies' practices, the Journal said.

The investigation of Northwest, American, Delta, and United airlines focuses on six hub airports -- Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Atlanta, where the airlines have 70 percent or more of the business. The agency also is looking into attempts to monopolize air routes from New York, the paper said.

The subpoenas ask the smaller airlines to document how the larger carriers have reacted to their entry into new markets. Antitrust regulators are apparently looking for evidence of sudden price cuts or service improvements that would help them prove big carriers are trying to push smaller competitors out of business.

Spokespeople for Delta and American said the airlines were cooperating. Northwest and United have denied any wrongdoing.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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