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JetBlue ends partnership with American, will focus on Spirit Airlines merger

JetBlue confirmed Wednesday it is severing ties with American Airlines. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 5 (UPI) — JetBlue confirmed Wednesday it is severing ties with American Airlines, after a federal judge in May ordered the two carriers to end the agreement over antitrust laws.

Based in New York City, JetBlue will now look to keep its proposed merger deal with fellow low-cost airline Spirit Airlines alive, the company said in a statement.

It is formally ending its Northeast Alliance with American Airlines, which avoids antitrust claims by the Justice Department. Under the current deal, the two carriers share passengers and revenue while coordinating schedules.

“Terminating the NEA renders the U.S. Department of Justice’s concerns about our partnership with a legacy carrier entirely moot,” the airline said in the statement.

“With that, the DOJ should reconsider and support our plan to bring a national low-fare competitor to the Big Four; the flying public deserves better than the status quo. The DOJ itself has acknowledged the benefits of JetBlue’s disruptive impact on the industry, and we are open to working with the DOJ to address any remaining concerns they have.”

In May, a federal judge ruled the deal between American Airlines and JetBlue did violate antitrust laws, forcing the two to cancel it.

The airline said Wednesday’s news will not affect customers that have already booked travel plans.

JetBlue announced the intended $3.8-billion purchase of Spirit last year, which would make JetBlue the fifth-largest airline in the United States.

Founded in 1990, Florida-based Spirit Airlines bills itself as an ultra-low-cost carrier. It’s board of directors last year voted in favor of the merger.

American regulators, including the Justice Department, voiced concerns over the deal.

Texas-based American Airlines said Wednesday it plans to appeal the court ruling forcing it to terminate the NEA.

“The NEA has been highly pro-competitive and that an erroneous judicial decision disregarding the NEA’s consumer benefits has led to an anticompetitive outcome,” the company said in a statement.

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