Court Starts Hearing Antitrust Suit vs American Airlines, JetBlue
The US government’s antitrust lawsuit against American Airlines and JetBlue begins Tuesday in Massachusetts and the outcome could determine how closely the Biden administration examines other airline deals, including JetBlue’s pending attempt to buy Spirit Airlines, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Photo Insert: American and JetBlue will argue that the partnership has already been in effect for about 18 months and has allowed each airline to offer new routes that would not be economical for either on its own.
The Justice Department and six states are suing American and JetBlue to break up their partnership in the Northeast, namely New York and Boston. It is a significant test of the administration’s opposition to mergers — even though the American-JetBlue partnership is not a full merger.
The government argues that the alliance will reduce competition and lead to higher fares.
The Trump administration approved the alliance, but the Justice Department began taking a closer look shortly after President Joe Biden took office. American and JetBlue will argue that the partnership has already been in effect for about 18 months and has allowed each airline to offer new routes that would not be economical for either on its own.
They say there is no evidence that the deal is hurting consumers. The current and former CEOs of American and JetBlue’s CEO, along with senior officials from other airlines, are among potential witnesses identified by the two sides.
Delta Air Lines tried to prevent two executives from testifying, saying they are too busy in Atlanta, where the airline is based, to attend the trial in federal court in Boston.
The judge ruled Monday that one of them, a senior vice president, must be available to testify. US District Court Judge Leo Sorokin has set aside nearly three weeks for the trial. There will be no jury. Sorokin could take weeks or even months to issue a decision, which is likely to be appealed by the losing side.