oversight

Airline Competition: DOT and Justice Oversight of Eastern Air Lines' Bankruptcy

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-02-23.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

GAO
                       United States
                       General Accounting Office
                       Washington, D.C. 20548

                       Resources, Community,     and
                       Economic Development      Division

                       B-234830

                       February 23,199O

                       The Honorable James L. Oberstar
                       Chairman, Subcommittee on Aviation
                       Committee on Public Works and
                         Transportation
                       House of Representatives

                       Dear Mr. Chairman:

                       On August 17, 1989, you asked us to review the responsibilities and
                       activities of the Department of Transportation (Dar> and the Department
                       of Justice (Justice) with respect to the Eastern Air Lines (Eastern) bank-
                       ruptcy proceeding. In particular, you were concerned about whether DOT
                       and/or Justice had any responsibilities to review the impact on competi-
                       tion of the proposals to restructure Eastern that had been submitted to
                       the bankruptcy court. You also wished to know what actions DOTand
                       Justice had taken in this regard. Finally, you asked us to provide our
                       opinion on whether the two Departments had adequately fulfilled their
                       responsibilities and whether legislation was needed to clarify or expand
                       their participation in airline bankruptcy proceedings.


                       We found the following:
Results in Brief
                   l Both DOTand Justice have broad responsibilities to protect and promote
                     airline competition which they may exercise during the course of an air-
                     line bankruptcy proceeding; however, neither agency is required to par-
                     ticipate in a bankruptcy proceeding.
                   l Both Departments acted during the Eastern bankruptcy proceeding to
                     protect airline competition. For example, both nor and Justice opposed
                     the sale of Eastern’s Philadelphia gates to USAir on the grounds that the
                     sale would reduce competition in the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition,
                     DOT helped promote competition by temporarily reallocating Eastern’s
                     take-off and landing slots at National and LaGuardia airports in a man-
                     ner that assured new entrant airlines preferential treatment in obtaining
                     slots.
                   l Neither Eastern nor a group of investors headed by Mr. Joseph Ritchie
                     has filed a complete reorganization plan for the airline. Consequently,
                     neither DOT nor Justice has been able to assess either plan to determine
                     its impact on airline competition.
                   . Legislation is not needed to clarify or expand either Department’s
                     responsibility to participate in airline bankruptcy proceedings. Because


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                   Justice already represents the United States in the Eastern bankruptcy
                   proceeding, it can raise competitive issues for itself or on behalf of DOT.
                   However, if Justice was not a party, our review of past cases suggests
                   that either Department would not have difficulty becoming a party
                   because of their regulatory responsibilities to protect and promote com-
                   petition. Even if they were denied status as a party, DOTor Justice could
                   take action outside the bankruptcy proceeding to protect or promote
                   competition.


                   On March 9,1989, Eastern filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the
Background         US. Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. Sec. 1100 et seq.). Eastern’s filing came
                   five days after its machinists went out on strike. The machinists were
                   followed by most of Eastern’s pilots and flight attendants, initially caus-
                   ing the airline to cancel about 90 percent of its flights. Before the strike
                   and subsequent filing for bankruptcy, Eastern was the nation’s seventh
                   largest airline, with 7 percent of the nation’s air travel market, and with
                   extensive operations on the East Coast. The strike and bankruptcy
                   raised congressional concern about the impact of the bankruptcy on
                   competition in the airline industry and about the actions nor and Justice
                   had taken to protect and promote competition.

                    By filing for bankruptcy, Eastern is temporarily protected from its cred-
                   itors while it develops a reorganization plan to meet its commitments to
                    creditors. Eastern has the exclusive right for 120 days to develop and
                    gain court acceptance of its reorganization plan. The bankruptcy court
                    can extend the 120-day deadline. This court will review and assessthe
                    plan submitted to determine whether it will allow for a successful reor-
                    ganization and operation of Eastern. The bankruptcy court may not
                    approve (confirm) a plan until the plan satisfies a list of statutory crite-
                    ria. These criteria require, among other things, that (1) the plan disclose
                    all payments to be made, (2) the plan show what assets will be sold and
                    what funds will be used to operate the company, (3) confirmation of the
                    plan is not likely to be followed by the liquidation or further financial
                    reorganization of the company, and (4) the creditors whose claims will
                    not be paid in full have approved the plan.


                   Both DOTand Justice have broad authority to protect and promote com-
DCn:and Justice    petition in the airline industry. DOT has the authority to halt unfair and
Responsibilities   deceptive trade practices (49 U.S.C. App. Sec. 1381(a)). This authority
                   has been construed broadly to include acts that do not yet constitute



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    ES-234830




    antitrust violations, such as the regulation of airline computerized reser-
    vation systems (United Air Lines v. CAB, 766 F.2d 1107 (7th Cir. 1985)).
    nor also has authority to pursue administrative remedies against merg-
    ers that violate the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 21). Furthermore, under
    the Federal Aviation Act, nor has the broad responsibility to “assure a
    more effective, competitive airline industry” and prevent “unfair,
    deceptive, predatory, or anticompetitive practices in air transportation”
    (49 U.S.C. App. Sec. 1302(a)). Finally, nor must certify airlines as finan-
    cially fit in order for them to provide service (49 U.S.C. App. Sec. 1371).
    Justice is charged with enforcing the nation’s antitrust laws (15 U.S.C.
    Sec.l-7 and 12-27).

    These Departments’ oversight responsibilities do not end when an air-
    line files for bankruptcy. Both LXPand Justice could bring actions
    outside a bankruptcy proceeding. Although the Bankruptcy Code gener-
     ally prevents the commencement or continuation of administrative or
    judicial proceedings against a bankrupt company, a governmental unit
    may commence such actions to enforce its police or regulatory power.
    The term “governmental unit” is defined to include a department of the
     United States Government.1

    Although there is no statute or Bankruptcy Rule that requires either
    Department to participate in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, they
    may intervene to protect competition in the airline industry. Unlike the
    Securities Exchange Commission and State Attorneys General, no bank-
    ruptcy statute or rule grants either DOTor Justice a specific right to par-
    ticipate. Thus, each department would have to show that it was either
    (1) a party in interest with a right to intervene under the Bankruptcy
    Code, or (2) an interested entity under the Bankruptcy Rules which the
    court, in its discretion, would allow to intervene generally or specifically
    on a particular issue.

    Those cases where Federal or state agencies charged with regulating an
    industry have been considered parties in interest with a right to inter-
    vene under the Bankruptcy Code suggest that in an airline reorganiza-
    tion proceeding, DOT,for example, would be considered a party in
    interest because of its many airline regulatory responsibilities involving,




    ‘The drafters of the Bankruptcy Code evidently contemplated the possibility of antitrust actions.
    Section 363(b)(2) of Title 11 of the United States Code shortens the time Justice has to review a
    proposed sale of assets under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act (amendment to the Clayton Act).



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                         among other things, airline certification and airline competition.2 In any
                         event, Justice already represents the United States as a party in interest
                         in the Eastern bankruptcy proceeding. For example, Justice represents
                         the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the collection of fines lev-
                         ied against Eastern.


                         Officials in DOT’SOffice of General Counsel and Office of Aviation Anal-
DOI’Actions to Protect   ysis have monitored Eastern’s actual and proposed activities during the
and Promote              strike and bankruptcy proceedings. Since the strike, Eastern has pro-
Competition              posed several asset sales and has consummated two major sales. nor
                         reviewed the proposed sales, supported one, but opposed the other
                         because it believed the sale would reduce competition. nor also acted to
                         promote competition by temporarily reallocating Eastern’s take-off and
                         landing slots.

                         In May 1989, DOT opposed Eastern’s proposed sale of gates and routes at
                         Philadelphia’s International Airport. Under the proposed asset sale,
                         Eastern planned to sell to USAir 8 of its 10 Philadelphia gates for $70
                         million, as well as 2 Canadian routes-from Philadelphia to Montreal
                         and Toronto-for $15 million. DOT.% Office of Aviation Analysis studied
                         the competitive impacts of the proposed sale. nor concluded that the sale
                         would increase USAir’s existing dominance in the Mid-Atlantic Region
                         and reduce competition in that region’s short-haul markets (up to 400
                         miles). In a May 30, 1989, letter to the U.S. Attorney General, the Secre-
                         tary of Transportation stated that the sale would reduce the potential
                         for new competition in Philadelphia markets. The Secretary also stated
                         that the sale could give USAir the ability to charge airfares above com-
                         petitive levels in the markets affected by the sale.

                         Justice subsequently also opposed the sale, causing Eastern to cancel the
                         proposed sale to USAir and to open negotiations with Midway Airlines.
                         In June 1989, Eastern agreed to sell Midway Airlines the 8 Philadelphia
                         gates and the 2 Canadian routes. The final sale agreement also included
                         provisions for Eastern to sell to Midway aircraft, facilities, and spare
                         parts, as well as two slots each at Washington’s National and New
                         York’s LaGuardia airports. Following their review, nor and Justice
                         raised no competition-based objections to this sale and concluded that it
                         would enhance competition in the region.

                         21nre Co Petro Mktg. Group, 680 F.2d 566 (9th Cii. 1982) (The Commodity Futures Trading Ckmunis-
                         sion was allowed to intervene for limited purposes); see, In re Public Service Company of New Hamp-
                         e,     88 B.R. 546 (D. N.H. 1988); In re Citizens Loan and Thrift, 7 B.R. 88 (N.D. Iowa 1980); see also,
                         In re South Park Land & Livestock Co., 6 B.R. 479 (CD. Cal. 1980) (dictum).



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    B-234830




    Before the strike and bankruptcy, Eastern had negotiated the sale of its
    Washington-New York-Boston shuttle operation (Shuttle) to Mr. Donald
    Trump. After the strike occurred, there were delays in finalizing the
    contract. In 1989, DOTreviewed the sale of the Shuttle for $365 million
    to Mr. Trump and found that the purchase would enhance competition
    in the Northeast corridor markets.

    In conjunction with the sale, DOT conducted an air carrier fitness review
    of the new Trump Shuttle operation to ensure that it could operate
    safely and support its operations with sufficient resources. As part of
    the fitness certification, D(JT examined the Trump Shuttle’s financial
    resources, the experience and background of the airline’s management
    team, and the airline’s proposed operating plans. DOTalso checked with
    FAA to verify that the Trump Shuttle met the safety requirements of that
    agency. DOT concluded that the Trump Shuttle operation was fit, willing,
    and able to provide service on the Shuttle routes.

    Before the strike, Eastern held almost 200 take-off and landing slots,
    mostly at LaGuardia and National airports-two of the four high-den-
    sity traffic airports where FAA restricts take-offs and landings to allo-
    cate operations through the use of slots.3 Because these slots are so
    scarce they have been difficult for any airline to obtain. Since Eastern
    was not using all of its slots, FM, in May 1989, conducted a lottery to
    allocate temporary slots identical to the times of Eastern’s unused slots.
    To promote competition, new entrants at the airports received preferen-
    tial treatment in obtaining these slots. For example, in the first round of
    slot selection new entrants could select four slots while other airlines
    could select two slots. In all, 89 slots were selected, but only one-half of
    the slots were used. America West was the only new entrant to use the
    slots it selected. As Eastern expanded its operations and began using its
    slots, FU has recalled the temporary slots. FAA has implemented proce-
    dures for the recall, giving the temporary slot users at least seven days
    to discontinue service.

    As part of its reorganization, Eastern has expressed interest in selling its
    international routes from Miami to various Central and South American
    destinations. On June 13,1989, em sent a letter to 28 airlines with sub-
    stantial international route systems, stating that the sale of interna-
    tional routes might devalue the public benefits DOT sought to create


    3For a further discussion of slots and how they can create a barrier to entry, see our Sept. 21,1989
    testimony Barriers to Competition in the Airline Industry (GAO/T-RCED-89-66).



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                      when it awarded the routes. Public benefits include maintaining compe-
                      tition and quality of service. The letter also stated that international
                      route transfers were subject to DOTreview. A Dm attorney told us that
                      the purpose of the letter was to inform airlines that sales of interna-
                      tional routes are not simply commercial transactions but carry public
                      interest concerns as well. In December 1989, American Airlines agreed
                      to a proposed purchase of Eastern’s Central and South American route
                      network, as well as its route authority from Miami to Madrid, from
                      Miami to Toronto, and from Tampa to Toronto.4 DOTattorneys told us
                      that they will review this proposed purchase to ensure that the public
                      benefits of the routes remain as intended.


                      Justice’s Antitrust Division has monitored the Eastern bankruptcy pro-
Justice Actions to    ceedings and has intervened when it believed that asset sales would vio-
Protect Competition   late the antitrust laws. In addition, Justice’s Civil Division has protected
                      creditor financial interests by reviewing the preliminary reorganization
                      plans submitted to date for accuracy of data and realistic financial
                      projections.

                      Justice’s Antitrust Division examined the proposed sale to USAir of
                      Eastern’s Philadelphia gates and Philadelphia-Toronto route and
                      opposed this sale. On April 21, 1989, the Antitrust Division filed a brief
                      with the bankruptcy court asking the court not to approve the sale until
                      Justice had completed an investigation of the antitrust issues involved.
                      Subsequently, Justice concluded that the proposed sale would lessen
                      competition in the airline industry. On June 7, 1989, Justice notified
                      Eastern and USAir that it would file an antitrust suit seeking to prohibit
                      the asset sale. The Antitrust Division also reviewed the subsequent sale
                      of the Philadelphia gates and routes to Midway Airlines and found that
                      the sale could increase competition and therefore was acceptable. In
                      addition, the Antitrust Division reviewed and did not oppose Mr. Donald
                      Trump’s purchase of Eastern’s Shuttle. Justice concluded that Mr.
                      Trump was an independent purchaser, able to provide service and com-
                      petition as a new carrier in existing markets. The Antitrust Division is
                      currently investigating a proposed sale of Eastern assets (international
                      routes, slots, and various facilities) to American Airlines. According to a
                      Justice attorney, the Department will address any potential antitrust
                      issues involved in the proposed sale and whether such a sale would have

                      4As part of thii proposed asset sale, American would also purchase 42 slots at the nation’s 4 slot-
                      controlled airports as well as various facilities at the New York Kennedy, MiSmi, and San Juan
                      airpoI-ts.



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                      an anticompetitive effect on the air industry market. This investigation
                      was ongoing as of February 1990.


                      Since filing for bankruptcy and falling under the protection of the bank-
Status of Eastern     ruptcy court, Eastern has attempted to develop a plan for reorganizing
ReorganizationPlans   its operations. However, as of February 1990, Eastern was still revising
                      its reorganization plan to include the financial information, such as key
                      provisions for paying creditors, necessary to be considered a complete
                      plan5 The bankruptcy court has granted Eastern several extensions to
                      provide its financial disclosure statement and complete reorganization
                      plan. On December 28,1989, Eastern asked for and was granted another
                      extension-until February 12, 1990-to provide this information. The
                      most recent extensions allowed Eastern to (1) adjust parts of the reor-
                      ganization plan in light of creditor comments and a recent unfavorable
                      court decision that requires Eastern to pay $60 million in back pay to its
                      pilots and (2) revise the plan to account for changes that could occur if
                      American’s proposed purchase of Eastern’s international route struc-
                      ture, some take-off and landing slots, and various facilities is approved.
                      On February 5,1990, Eastern requested another extension-until
                      March 12, 1990-to provide a complete reorganization plan that
                      includes a financial disclosure statement. The bankruptcy court has
                      granted Eastern only an 8-day extension beyond the February 12th
                      deadline. See appendix I for a chronology of Eastern’s effort to develop
                      a reorganization plan.

                      In June 1989, a group of investors led by M r. Joseph Ritchie, a Chicago
                      commodities broker, submitted the first of several proposals to reorgan-
                      ize Eastern. The bankruptcy court’s examiner told us that he did not
                      accept any of the Ritchie plans for Eastern’s reorganization as a legiti-
                      mate option because they lacked concrete financial information.6 For
                      example, procedures and price for buying Eastern’s stock were missing.
                      As of February 1990, DOT, Justice, and bankruptcy court officials have
                      not received any additional information or a completed plan from M r.
                      Ritchie.



                      “In late January, Eastern presented to its creditors a proposed reorganization plan with payment
                      provisions that did not meet with their approval.
                      “Under certain circumstances the bankruptcy court may appoint an examiner. The examiner’s duties
                      include investigating (1) the acts, conduct, assets,liabiities and financial condition of the debtor, (2)
                      the operations of the debtor’s business, and (3) the desirability of continuing the business. The exam-
                      iner then fiies a report with the court detailing the findings.



                      Page 7                      GAO/FlCED-90-79 DOT and Justice Oversight of Eastern’s Bankruptcy
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                       m officials said that they will follow the progress of these reorganiza-
Future Review of       tion plans and any others that may develop. According to officials in
Reorganization Plans   DOT’SOffice of General Counsel, DOTcannot fully evaluate such plans
                       without the required financial disclosure information. Once complete
                       reorganization plans are submitted, DCT will review the plans and advise
                       the bankruptcy court on any competitive issues the plans may raise. The
                       Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Program Development told us
                       that DCKdoes not intend to compare multiple plans, if there are any, to
                       determine which one is the most beneficial to competition.

                       The Justice attorney told us that the Department will also review any
                       completed reorganization proposals submitted to the bankruptcy court.
                       If more than one plan is submitted, the attorney told us that the Depart-
                       ment would consider making its views known on the competitive aspects
                       of each plan.


                       Since Eastern filed for bankruptcy in March 1989, both DOT and Justice
Conclusions            have acted to fulfill their responsibilities to protect airline competition.
                       Most notably, both Departments opposed the sale of Eastern’s Philadel-
                       phia gates to USAir on the grounds that such a sale would reduce com-
                       petition in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Their opposition led to the ultimate
                       sale of the gates to Midway Airlines, which provided an additional corn-                 .
                       petitor in the region. Furthermore, DOI’ took what we believe were
                       procompetitive actions in reallocating Eastern’s take-off and landing
                       slots by providing preferential treatment for new-entrant airlines.
                       Although neither Department is required to take any action to protect or
                       promote competition within the context of an airline bankruptcy pro-
                       ceeding, both have acted when opportunities have arisen. Further, offi-
                       cials at both Departments have indicated that they will review any
                       reorganization plans for their competitive impact when they are com-
                       plete. Consequently, we believe that both Departments have adequately
                       fulfilled their responsibilities.

                       Regarding the broader question of whether legislation is needed to clar-
                       ify DOT’S and/or Justice’s responsibilities, we do not believe that legisla-
                       tion is needed. Because Justice already represents the United States in
                       the Eastern bankruptcy proceeding, it can raise competitive issues for
                       itself or on behalf of DOT. However, if Justice was not a party, our
                       review of past cases suggests that either Department would not have
                       difficulty becoming a party. Even if they were denied status as a party,
                       DOT or Justice could take action outside the bankruptcy proceeding to
                       protect or promote competition.


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                  With respect to the question of whether the Departments’ responsibili-
                  ties should be expanded to require participation, we would observe that
                  requiring D(JTor Justice to participate in airline bankruptcy proceedings
                  may not ensure that protecting or promoting competition will be consid-
                  ered the most important factor in determining the outcome of the pro-
                  ceeding. According to DOTand Justice officials, the bankruptcy judge
                  must ultimately balance the interests of creditors, as well as other issues
                  that parties like DOTor Justice might raise, such as protecting and pro-
                  moting competition, in confirming a reorganization plan. In any event, if
                  nor or Justice believed that the proposed reorganization plan might
                  reduce competition, either Department could oppose the anticompetitive
                  features of the plan outside of the bankruptcy process.


                  DOTand Justice Department officials provided oral comments on a draft
Agency Comments   of this report. These officials agreed with our conclusions and suggested
                  some technical changes to the report which we incorporated as
                  appropriate.


                  In conducting our review, we examined pertinent legislation relating to
                  bankruptcy proceedings and the authority of DOTand Justice. We also
                  reviewed pertinent documents and interviewed officials at DOT, Justice,
                  and the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York. Our review was conducted
                  between August and November 1989. See appendix II for the scope and
                  methodology used in compiling the report.

                  As agreed with your office, unless you publiily announce its contents
                  earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 15 days from
                  the date of this letter. At that time we will send copies to the Secretary
                  of Transportation, the Attorney General, and the Administrator of the
                  Federal Aviation Administration. If you or your staff have any ques-
                  tions, I can be reached at (202) 275-1000. Major contributors to this
                  report are listed in appendix III.

                  Sincerely yours,




                  Kenneth M. Mead
                  Director, Transportation Issues


                  Page 9              GAO/RCED-99-79   DOT and Justice Oversight   of Eastern’s Bankmptcy
Contents


Letter                                                                                                           1
                                                                .
Appendix I                                                                                                   12
Chronology of Eastern
Reorganization Plan
Development
Appendix II                                                                                                  14
Objectives, Scope,and
Methodology
Appendix III
Major Contributors to
This Report




                        Abbreviations

                        Dm        Department of Transportation
                        FAA       Federal Aviation Administration


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                                                                                               J




Appendix I

Chronology of Eastern Reorganization
Plan Development

               Reorganization plans, among other things, must provide adequate means
               for their execution. For example, plans must provide for disposition of
               assets, satisfaction of liens, cancellation or modification of indentures,
               and curing or waiving of defaults. To date, only Eastern and M r. Joseph
               Ritchie, as representative of a potential investor group, have proposed
               significant reorganization plans.

               Eastern submitted a prelim inary reorganization plan in April 1989. This
               plan contained timetables for restructuring operations but did not con-
               tain detailed financial plans on exact sources of revenue or plans for
               payments of creditors. After filing this prelim inary plan, Eastern had
               120 days to submit a complete plan. Eastern asked for and was granted
               a 2-week extension to file a complete plan. On July 21, 1989, Eastern
               submitted a partial plan that contained operations plans and a broad
               statement that Eastern would pay its creditors in full but did not contain
               the required financial disclosure information to show how repayment
               would be accomplished. The financial disclosure portion of the reorgani-
               zation plan is necessary for a completed plan because it explains where
               the necessary funds will come from and how payments will be made to
               creditors.

               Although the financial disclosure statement was due on September 15,
               1989, Eastern requested another extension until November 13, 1989, so
               that it could revise its financial information. According to D(JTofficials,
               Eastern requested the extension because its projected level of operations
               had changed. For example, Eastern said it needs to revise its proposal
               because it now plans to operate at 85 to 90 percent of its pre-strike
               capacity, versus the estimate of two-thirds made in the April 1989 pre-
               lim inary plan. Eastern projected this increased level of service because
               it did not sell certain South American routes as originally planned and
               because some union pilots have crossed picket lines to resume work,
               while the original reorganization plan was based on none of the strikers
               returning. The sale of the routes would have provided funds for its oper-
               ations, while the return of experienced pilots has allowed Eastern to
               increase its level of service and revenues beyond original projections.

               In November 1989, Eastern asked for and received an extension-until
               December 29, 1989-for filing its financial disclosure statement and
               complete reorganization plan. The extension of deadlines was to allow
               Eastern to adjust parts of the reorganization plan in light of creditor
               comments and a recent unfavorable court decision that requires Eastern
               to pay $60 m illion in back pay to its pilots.



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Appendix I
Chronology of Eastern Reorganization
Plan Development




On December 28,1989, Eastern asked for and was granted another
extension; its financial disclosure statement and reorganization plan
were due on February 12,199O. Eastern requested this extension
because it is proposing to sell, to American Airlines, its Central and
South American route network, as well as its route authority from
Miami to Madrid, from Miami to Toronto, and from Tampa to Toronto.
In addition, American would purchase a total of 42 slots at the nation’s
4 slot-controlled airports as well as various facilities at the New York
Kennedy, Miami, and San Juan airports.

On February 5, 1990, Eastern requested another extension-until
March 12, 1990-to provide a complete reorganization plan that
includes a financial disclosure statement. The bankruptcy court has
granted Eastern only an 8-day extension beyond the February 12th
deadline.

In June 1989, Mr. Joseph Ritchie and a group of investors filed the first
of several preliminary plans to reorganize Eastern. Unlike Eastern’s pre-
liminary plan that would have substantially reduced the size of the com-
pany, Mr. Ritchie’s plans called for full restoration of Eastern’s
operations with wage concessions from Eastern’s employees. The bank-
ruptcy court’s examiner told us that he did not accept any of Ritchie’s
plans for Eastern’s reorganization as legitimate options because they
lacked concrete financing information. For example, procedures and
price for buying Eastern’s stock were missing. As of February 1990, DCJI’,
Justice, and bankruptcy court officials have not received any submis-
sion from Mr. Ritchie supplying this information.




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Appendix II

Objectives,Scope,and Methodology


              On August 17,1989, Chairman James L. Oberstar, Subcommittee on Avi-
              ation, House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, asked us
              to examine the responsibilities and activities of the Departments of
              Transportation and Justice with respect to the Eastern bankruptcy pro-
              ceeding. In particular, the Chairman requested that we determine (1) the
              responsibilities of Justice and DOTin the Eastern bankruptcy proceeding,
              (2) the actions Justice and nor have taken, (3) whether DOTand Justice
              have adequately fulfilled their responsibilities, and (4) whether there is
              a need for legislation to expand or clarify the Departments’ participa-
              tion in bankruptcy proceedings.

              To address the Chairman’s concerns, we reviewed D&S and Justice’s
              responsibilities, authority, and actions regarding Eastern’s bankruptcy
              proceeding. We obtained and analyzed relevant documents and legisla-
              tion for information on nor’s and Justice’s authority and actions regard-
              ing bankruptcy proceedings. These documents included correspondence
              between m officials and Members of Congress, the U.S. Attorney Gen-
              eral’s office, and Eastern officials. We also reviewed pertinent legisla-
              tion relating to bankruptcy proceedings.

              At nor, we interviewed officials from the Office of General Counsel, the
              Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs,
              and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs.
              Within these offices, we spoke with officials for Environmental, Civil
              Rights, and General Law; Litigation; Policy and Program Development;
              Aviation Analysis; and Consumer Affairs, We also met with FAA officials
              from the Office of Chief Counsel and Office of Plight Standards. At Jus-
              tice, we interviewed officials in the Antitrust and Civil Divisions.

              We also interviewed the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to
              the Eastern bankruptcy case and held discussions with the attorney
              appointed by the bankruptcy court as the Examiner for the Eastern
              case.

              The views of responsible agency officials were sought during the course
              of our work and are incorporated where appropriate.

              Our review was conducted between August 1989 and November 1989.




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*Appendi; III

Major Contributors to This Report


       c
Resources,              James Noel, Assistant Director
Community, and          Nancy E. Oquist, Evaluator-in-Charge
                        Larkin K. Jennings, Evaluator
Economic
Development Division,
Washington, D.C.

Office of the General   Michael G. Burros, Attorney
Counsel




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