DOJ wins match to reverse JetBlue, American Airlines Northeast collaboration

An American Airlines aircraft removes near a parked JetBlue aircraft at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 16, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

A federal judge Friday bought American Airlines and JetBlue Airways to end their collaboration in the Northeast, a win for the Department of Justice after it took legal action against to reverse the alliance arguing it was anti-competitive.

The claim, submitted in September 2021, declared the airline companies’ alliance was successfully a merger that would harm customers by increasing fares. The trial started a year later on in Boston and involved December.  

“It makes the two airlines partners, each having a substantial interest in the success of their joint and individual efforts, instead of vigorous, arms-length rivals regularly challenging each other in the marketplace of competition,” U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin stated in his judgment.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines and New York-based JetBlue Airways argued they required the so-called Northeast Alliance to much better take on other big providers Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in crowded airports in the area.

“Whatever the benefits to American and JetBlue of becoming more powerful—in the northeast generally or in their shared rivalry with Delta—such benefits arise from a naked agreement not to compete with one another,” Sorokin composed. “Such a pact is just the sort of ‘unreasonable restraint on trade’ the Sherman Act was designed to prevent.”

He bought the airline companies to end the collaboration one month after the judgment. The providers are most likely to challenge the choice. A JetBlue spokesperson stated the provider is studying the choice and assessing next actions. 

“We are disappointed in the decision,” she stated. “We made it clear at trial that the Northeast Alliance has been a huge win for customers. Through the NEA, JetBlue has been able to significantly grow in constrained northeast airports, bringing the airline’s low fares and great service to more routes than would have been possible otherwise.”

American Airlines didn’t right away react to an ask for remark.

Undoing the collaboration would be tough, particularly throughout the peak summertime travel season, which airline companies have actually currently offered tickets for.

JetBlue and American are not enabled to collaborate fares under the collaboration, which was authorized in the last days of the Trump administration in 2021 and has actually considering that broadened.

JetBlue had actually formerly cautioned in a securities filing that a judgment versus the NEA “could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

“Additionally, we are sustaining expenses connected with executing functional and marketing components of the NEA, which would not be recoverable if we were needed to loosen up all or a part of the NEA,” the company said.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The department separately in March filed an antitrust lawsuit to block JetBlue’s proposed acquisition of budget carrier Spirit Airlines, arguing the deal would drive up fares, “hurting cost-conscious fliers most acutely.”

That mix deals with a high difficulty for approval by the Biden administration, which has actually pledged to take a difficult line versus what it considers as anticompetitive offers.


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button