- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2001

The Justice Department yesterday said it will require Signature Flight Support Corp. to divest a flight-support services business including fueling and ramp/hangar rentals at Florida's Orlando International Airport for the company to proceed with its purchase of Ranger Aerospace Corp.

The department said the purchase, as proposed, would have resulted in higher prices for aviation services at the airport.

Aircraft Service International Group Inc. (ASIG), a wholly owned subsidiary of Ranger, conducts fixed-base operations at the Orlando airport.

Signature and ASIG are the only fixed-base operators at the airport, competing head-to-head to provide flight-support services.

In a lawsuit filed by Justice's antitrust division in U.S. District Court in Washington, the department seeks to block the proposed transaction.

A proposed consent decree, if approved by the court, would resolve the suit and the department's competitive concerns.

"This divestiture is necessary to prevent anti-competitive harm to operators of charter, private and corporate aircraft at Orlando International Airport," said acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Nannes, who heads the antitrust division.

According to the complaint, the merger would have resulted in a monopoly in the market for fixed-base flight-support operations at the Orlando airport.

The loss of competition likely would have resulted in higher prices and decreased quality of service to charter, private and corporate aircraft operators who use fixed-base operations, it said.

Signature, headquartered in Orlando, owns the nation's largest network of fixed-base operations, which consists of more than 40 locations nationwide. Its 1999 revenues were about $400 million.

Ranger is a Delaware holding company with its main office in Greenville, S.C. ASIG, also a Delaware corporation, is headquartered in Dania, Fla.

In addition to its fixed-base operations in Orlando and at one other airport in the United States and at one airport in the Bahamas, it provides fueling for commercial airlines and related services in airports throughout the United States. Revenues were $141 million for the fiscal year ended in March 2000.

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