DOJ Secures Precedent-Setting Win Against American and JetBlue’s De Facto Merger

May 19, 2023 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — After the Department of Justice Antitrust Division secured a victory in its case against American Airlines and JetBlue Airways for their Northeast Alliance partnership, the American Economic Liberties Project released the following statement.

“The Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s successful challenge of American Airlines and JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance Partnership is a win for passengers and the public,” said William J. McGee, Senior Fellow for Aviation and Travel at the American Economic Liberties Project. “Blocking this de-facto merger forces JetBlue and American to continue competing, eliminating anticompetitive revenue-sharing incentives and setting an important precedent against future consolidation in the industry. We hope to see a similar ruling in favor of the Justice Department’s suit against the JetBlue-Spirit merger, another illegal deal that would accelerate concentration and drive up fares nationwide.”

In September 2022, the Department of Justice, along with Attorneys General in six states, sued to block the series of partnerships to consolidate airline operations between JetBlue and American Airlines in Boston and New York City. The Antitrust Division argued that the move would not only eliminate important competition in these cities, but harm air travelers across the country by significantly diminishing JetBlue’s incentive to compete with American elsewhere.

In March 2023, the Department of Justice announced a suit to block JetBlue Airways’ $3.8 billion acquisition of rival Spirit Airlines, a merger that Economic Liberties has argued would raise prices, harm workers, and further exacerbate anticompetitive concerns. Shortly after, the U.S. Department of Transportation came out in support of the DOJ’s suit, flexing previously unused authority to promote competition in airline markets.

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The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.