An American Airlines plane takes off near a parked JetBlue plane at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 16, 2020.
Joe Ladle | Getty Images
A federal judge issued the order on Friday american airlines and jetblue airlines Dissolving the partnership in the Northeast was a win for the Justice Department, which filed a lawsuit seeking to end the partnership for being anti-competitive.
The lawsuit, filed in September 2021, argued that the airline partnership was effectively a merger that hurt consumers by increasing fares. The trial began in Boston a year later and ended in December.
“Today’s decision is a win for Americans who rely on competition among airlines to travel affordably,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The Department of Justice will continue to protect competition and enforce antitrust laws across the highly integrated airline industry and all industries.”
Both airlines expressed disappointment with the decision and said they were considering next steps.
U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin said, “This ensures that the two airlines are each more interested in the success of their joint and individual efforts than in the spirited rivals that regularly challenge each other in a competitive marketplace. We will be a partner with Ruling.
American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, and JetBlue Airways, based in New York, need to operate so-called North He insisted that he needed an East Alliance.
“Whatever the interests of American Airlines and JetBlue becoming stronger in the Northeast generally or in their common rivalry with Delta, such interests arise from a bare agreement not to compete with each other.” Sorokin wrote. “Such agreements are nothing more than the ‘unreasonable trade restrictions’ that the Sherman Act is designed to prevent.”
He ordered the airline to end the partnership 30 days after the ruling. Airlines are likely to challenge the decision. A JetBlue spokeswoman said the company is reviewing the decision and considering next steps.
“We regret this decision,” a JetBlue spokeswoman said in a statement. “We have made it clear at the trial that the Northeast Alliance is a big win for our customers. We have brought lower fares and better service to more routes than ever before.” Otherwise, it is possible. ”
“The court’s legal analysis is clearly inaccurate and unprecedented for a joint venture like the Northeast Alliance,” an American Airlines spokeswoman said in a statement. “There is no evidence in the record to show harm to consumers from partnerships, and there is no legal basis for inferring damages from the fact of partnerships alone.”
It would be difficult to pull off the deal, especially during the peak summer travel season when airlines are already selling tickets.
JetBlue and American Airlines were approved at the end of the Trump administration in 2021 and have not been allowed to adjust fares based on their partnerships since. expanded.
JetBlue previously warned in its filing that the NEA ruling “could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
“Additionally, there are costs associated with implementing the operational and marketing elements of the NEA, which would not be recoverable should it become necessary to terminate all or part of the NEA,” the company said.
department separately march submitted the Antitrust litigation Block JetBlue’s offer to buy a low-cost airline spirit airlinesargued that the deal would increase fares and “would hurt cost-conscious airlines the most.”
The combination faces high hurdle It is seeking approval from the Biden administration, which has vowed to take a tough stance against what it sees as anti-competitive deals.