UPDATE: JetBlue has issued the following statement:
“It’s unfortunate that these states have decided to join the DOJ’s effort to protect the dominant position of the four largest airlines in the U.S. The facts show that preserving the status quo is the most anti-competitive step that the federal government and these states can take. In Newark, United controls about 70% of the market, and in Charlotte, American Airlines controls about 90%. Customers would be better served if JetBlue and Spirit can join together to bring more competition with the low fares and great service that JetBlue is known for. Further, in Newark, JetBlue plans to divest all of Spirit’s assets to allow for another ultra-low-cost carrier to enter that airport.
“We look forward to arguing the merits of this combination in court, and are confident the court will find that consumers will benefit from the increased competitive effect that JetBlue uniquely brings to the routes we fly.”
Original story below…
BALTIMORE, MD—Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown this week joined an antitrust lawsuit to block JetBlue’s takeover of Spirit Airlines, alleging that this deal would decrease competition and could increase prices and reduce choice for fliers.
“In the airline industry, competition benefits consumers by keeping travel costs affordable,” said Attorney General Brown. “The Court should block this merger to protect choice and access to air travel for Marylanders, especially cost-conscious fliers, who may already face limited options and amenities and depend on lower fares to be able to travel at all.”
JetBlue is proposing a $3.8 billion takeover of Spirit Airlines. Spirit is the largest “ultra low-cost,” and fastest-growing, carrier in the United States. Like JetBlue, its network is focused on the eastern half of the United States, and its routes also reach the Caribbean and Latin America. When it offers flights to and from certain destinations, other airlines often end up lowering the cost of their own flights as a result, which gives customers more affordable flying options.
The complaint asserts that the acquisition would harm consumers seeking affordable air travel, including by causing higher prices for passengers flying in to or out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. If JetBlue buys Spirit, it will create a larger airline that has less incentive to offer cheap flights, making it easier for all airlines to increase their prices.
In filing the complaint, Attorney General Brown joins the U.S. Department of Justice and the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, New York, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, North Carolina, California, and Connecticut.
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