American Airlines, US Airways and the U.S. Justice Department say that they have agreed on a mediator to try to settle the government's lawsuit against the airlines' proposed merger.
But if they can't settle, the sides are preparing for a trial scheduled to start Nov. 25.
The CEOs of American parent AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Inc. have said they were open to a settlement that would allow the merger to go ahead, but have declined to discuss details of negotiations.
The airlines and the Justice Department said in a court filing Monday that they have agreed to a mediator suggested by a U.S. district court judge in Washington. They gave no other details.
They also said that they have finished much of the exchange of information that comes before a trial. The federal government and six states have taken depositions from 19 employees of the two airlines. Both sides have also interviewed under oath nine other people, mostly executives of other airlines, they said.
Separately, four airports dominated by American and US Airways -- Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Philadelphia International Airport -- were granted the chance to file friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the merger.
The Justice Department sued in August to block the merger, saying that the deal would limit competition and drive up consumer prices. The airlines say that if they merge, they'll provide better competition to United and Delta, the world's two largest airlines.