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Federal Judge Blocks JetBlue From Acquiring Spirit Airlines

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Daniel Ross
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Daniel Ross

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Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points...
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A federal judge has officially blocked JetBlue Airways from acquiring low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines.

JetBlue’s protracted legal battle to scoop up the airline came to an end on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, as the judge deemed the $3.8 billion takeover anti-competitive.

Here are the details of the case against JetBlue’s acquisition of Spirit Airlines.

JetBlue Denied Permission To Acquire Spirit Airlines

The main reason behind blocking the takeover was the Department of Justice (DOJ), which saw the potential merger as hurting consumers.

In the eyes of the DOJ, the 2 airlines essentially becoming 1 would have meant less competition, resulting in higher fares for passengers.

Spirit Airlines at Newark EWR
The DOJ denied JetBlue in its bid to acquire Spirit Airlines. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

“JetBlue’s plan would eliminate the unique competition that Spirit provides — and about half of all ultra-low-cost airline seats in the industry — and leave tens of millions of travelers to face higher fares and fewer options,” the DOJ said last March when the trial started.

This is the second blow to JetBlue’s growth plans in recent months after JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance with American Airlines was ended back in the summer of 2023.

Bottom Line:

It’s not just JetBlue’s mergers and acquisitions that have made headlines. Alaska Airlines recently acquired Hawaiian Airlines, although that still also requires regulatory approval.

After the breakup of the Northeast Alliance and now the end of the road for the merger with Spirit, it’s unclear what JetBlue’s path forward will be.

Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s newly-appointed incoming CEO, will have the monumental task of moving things along for the airline, whose growth plans continue to be thwarted.

The news isn’t just a blow for JetBlue. Spirit Airlines, which isn’t in the most stable financial position, saw its share price plummet after the decision was made public on Tuesday.

However, there’s no doubt that some JetBlue flyers might find themselves feeling a sense of relief that their beloved airline won’t be affected by the ultra-low-cost ways of Spirit.

At the time of writing, neither airline has released a statement about the news.

Final Thoughts

The decision made by the DOJ has without a doubt sent shockwaves through JetBlue’s headquarters in New York.

The future of both JetBlue and Spirit will now be very different from what each carrier had envisioned if the acquisition had been given the go-ahead, and time will tell whether JetBlue will look to another carrier as an acquisition target in the future.

Daniel Ross's image

About Daniel Ross

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points Guy, and more.


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