Jetblue-Spirit Deal Moots Antitrust Suit, Airlines Assert

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Jetblue-Spirit Deal Moots Antitrust

In a dramatic turn of events, the $3.8 billion merger between JetBlue Airways Corp. and Spirit Airways Inc. has been abandoned following a victorious legal challenge by the U.S. Department of Justice. This development has rendered moot a separate antitrust suit brought by air travelers aiming to halt the merger, argue the airlines before the First Circuit.

Jetblue-Spirit Deal Moots Antitrust Suit : Airlines’ Motion to Dismiss

JetBlue and Spirit jointly filed a motion on Monday to dismiss the case brought by flyers, contending that without the merger, there exists no active controversy for the First Circuit to address. “The case is now moot in light of the abandonment of the merger and the permanent injunction entered in the Department of Justice action,” stated the airlines. They further emphasized, “The appeal should thus be dismissed for lack of Article III jurisdiction.”

Flyers’ Legal Challenge

The legal battle initiated by flyers, who contested the merger that was subsequently scrapped, reached the First Circuit after a Boston federal judge ruled against their standing due to their non-usage of Spirit’s services. Nonetheless, on appeal, the flyers argued for a broader perspective on the impact of anti-competitive mergers, asserting that all consumers in the air travel market are affected by pricing dynamics and should have the right to challenge such deals.

Jetblue-Spirit Deal Moots Antitrust Suit : Mootness of the Suit

JetBlue and Spirit asserted that the suit has become moot primarily because their objective of halting the merger has been realized. Moreover, they argued against other requests made by the flyers, such as preventing JetBlue’s involvement in the Northeast Alliance with American Airlines and impeding JetBlue’s payment of a breakup fee to Spirit, deeming them devoid of legal basis.

The Merger’s Context

Initially marketed as an opportunity to combine a low-cost carrier with an ultra-low-cost carrier to foster competition against the dominant quartet of airlines in the market, the merger faced opposition from state and federal regulators. Their concerns centered on the potential diminishment of Spirit’s capacity for price-sensitive flyers. Following a lengthy bench trial, U.S. District Judge William G. Young sided with the government, blocking the merger in mid-January. Although the airlines appealed the ruling, they later announced the termination of the proposed merger.

Jetblue-Spirit Deal Moots Antitrust Suit : Unavailable Comments

Representatives for the involved parties were not immediately accessible for comment on Tuesday.

Legal Representatives

The flyers are represented by a consortium of legal experts including Joseph M. Alioto Jr. of Alioto Legal, Joseph M. Alioto of Alioto Law Firm, Josephine Alioto of The Veen Firm, and others.