In a major victory for the Biden administration, a federal judge in Boston ruled Friday that American Airlines and JetBlue Airways must abandon their partnership in the northeast United States. The judge found that the Northeast Alliance partnership violated antitrust law by reducing competition and leading to higher fares.
The partnership had been in place since early 2021, allowing the airlines to sell seats on each other’s flights and share revenue. It covered many of their flights to and from Boston’s Logan Airport and three airports in the New York City area: John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty in New Jersey.
The Justice Department sued to kill the deal in 2021, arguing that it would reduce competition and harm consumers. The airlines argued that the partnership would benefit consumers by creating more competition against Delta and United Airlines.
The judge found that the airlines had not provided enough evidence to support their claims. He said the partnership “substantially diminishes competition in the domestic market for air travel” and would lead to higher fares.
The ruling is a major setback for American and JetBlue, but it is a victory for the Biden administration’s efforts to crack down on antitrust violations. The administration has also filed lawsuits to block mergers between other major corporations, including AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast, and NBCUniversal.
The ruling is also a victory for consumers, who will now have more competition in the airline industry. This could lead to lower fares and better service.
The case is still pending before the appeals court, but the judge’s ruling strongly indicates that the partnership will be dissolved. This is a major victory for the Biden administration and consumers.
In addition to the ruling on the Northeast Alliance, the Justice Department is also suing to block JetBlue’s proposed $3.8 billion purchase of Spirit Airlines. The Justice Department argues that the deal would reduce competition and harm consumers. JetBlue has countered that the deal would create a stronger low-cost competitor to Delta, United, Southwest, and American.
The government’s lawsuit against the JetBlue-Spirit deal is pending before a different judge in the same Boston courthouse.