Federal Judge Blocks JetBlue-Spirit Airlines Merger

January 17, 2024

The elimination of Spirit would harm cost-conscious travelers who rely on Spirit’s low fares.

United States District Judge William Young, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, in his decision to block JetBlue’s $3.8 billion purchase of Spirit Airlines.

What To Know: The U.S. Department of Justice sued JetBlue and Spirit last year in an attempt to block the merging of two U.S. airlines; on Tuesday, the deal was blocked with Judge Young’s decision rejecting the acquisition. In his 100-plus page decision, he explained the merger would minimize competition and likely result in higher fares for customers who depend on Spirit’s low prices.

Big Picture: Had the deal gone through, it would have been the largest airline merger in the U.S. in more than a decade. Additionally, it would have created the fifth largest airline in the U.S., which JetBlue lawyers argued would have allowed them to compete more seriously with the top four U.S. airlines — American, Delta, United and Southwest (which control around two-thirds of the U.S. airline market).

Something To Consider: The New York Times reports, “the proposed merger would have been a lifeline to” Spirit, “which had been struggling with operational issues and had not turned a profit since before the pandemic.”

JetBlue and Spirit have not indicated whether they will appeal the decision.

Read More: Federal Judge Blocks JetBlue’s $3.8 Billion Acquisition of Spirit Airlines (The Wall Street Journal)

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas