Congressman Cohen discusses Delta Airlines with Justice Department

(WMC-TV) – Congressman Steve Cohen was called out last month on the "Delta Does Memphis" website for not doing more to reduce the high cost to fly Delta airlines in and out of Memphis. Tonight he wants Memphis to know he's taking your concerns straight to the administration.

During a hearing with the Department of Justice, District 9 Congressman Steve Cohen went straight to Attorney General Eric Holder for action.

"Many of the promises made by Delta to this committee have been broken," Cohen said.

Congressman Cohen told the AG Delta's merger with Northwest has hit Memphis hard by costing the city the annual COGIC conference which is now held in St. Louis and prevented businesses from coming to Memphis.

"The middle cities are hostages. They are company towns and the people in the cities have to pay whatever they are charged," he said. "Can we do anything about that?"

"What we can always do is look into the impact of these mergers has been on operations in particular cities," Attorney General Holder replied.

"Then can I ask you this. Would you look into Memphis?" Cohen asked.

Cohen told Holder that when competition comes to Memphis such as Frontier Airlines, Delta lowers its prices to purposely run the competition out of town.

"That's monopoly," Cohen stated.

"That's inappropriate based on our antitrust laws, and that will have an impact on consumers, and that's the kind of thing we would aggressively pursue," Holder replied.

Delta caught word of Cohen's questioning and has this comment in part: "Airline fares are affected by many factors, including the cost of providing the service, the price of jet fuel, the date and time of purchase, the route traveled, and time, date and season of the flight and the fare class. We offer a wide range of fares in Memphis for both our business and leisure customers."

Cohen also told the Attorney General about the lack of grocery store competition in Memphis mentioning Kroger's purchase of the Shnucks stores and that he considers this to be a monopoly.

To that, Kroger's Public Relations manager said in part: "Kroger doesn't control what other companies do. It's a free market. Schnucks was already leaving. They offered the stores for sale and we bought."

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