Frontier-Spirit Merger Would Kneecap Competition Within the Airline Industry

March 10, 2022 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter released today, nine organizations, including the American Economic Liberties Project, Demand Progress, and Public Citizen, called on Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter to block the proposed merger of Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

“In an industry already infamous for anticompetitive behavior and collusion, a Frontier-Spirit merger will raise prices for consumers, drive job cuts, encourage service reductions, and enable more airline market power abuse,” said Shahid Naeem, a Policy Analyst at the American Economic Liberties Project. “While allowing another airline mega-merger may benefit shareholders, executives, and their bankers, all evidence shows that it will be a raw deal for American travelers, citizens, and workers. If Frontier and Spirit want a stronger market share, they should offer a better product — not ask the government to hand it to them.”

As the letter writers explain, “the story of the US airline industry, once a tale of innovation and progress in knitting together a nation, has become a story of consolidation.” Today, there are fewer than 60 airlines. The four major airlines – American, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines – form an oligopoly, controlling more than 80 percent of the country’s domestic flights. In many routes and airports, just one or two carriers are dominant.

If consummated, the proposed merger between Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines would create the fifth-largest airline and the single largest ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) in the United States. It would kneecap competition within the airline industry, hurt consumers, degrade domestic and international travel access, and damage the economy.

The deal also poses a serious threat to airline workers. In the words of Consumer Reports airline adviser William McGee: “There has never been a merger or an acquisition of an airline in the United States that has not led to layoffs…There is always, always fallout on the labor side. Always.”

Read the full letter here.

Learn more about Economic Liberties here.



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.