WOW: JetBlue & Spirit Merger Blocked, As DOJ Wins Trial

WOW: JetBlue & Spirit Merger Blocked, As DOJ Wins Trial

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This is major — a judge has just ruled against JetBlue’s takeover of Spirit…

Judge blocks JetBlue’s takeover of Spirit

In July 2022, it was announced that JetBlue and Spirit would merge. It was quite a path to get to that point, because the initial plan was for Frontier and Spirit to merge, but JetBlue ended up outbidding Frontier.

From the beginning, there were concerns about the merger between JetBlue and Spirit getting regulatory approval. Sure enough, in early 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it intended to challenge this merger in court. That trial took place in late 2023, and for the past several weeks, we’ve been waiting on a verdict.

That verdict is now out, and the judge overseeing the case has issued his ruling. Long story short, JetBlue’s takeover of Spirit has been blocked, full stop. No, this isn’t a case where JetBlue just has to make additional concessions, but rather the merger is off altogether, as it was found to be in violation of the Clayton Act:

In sum, the Court has made its best attempt, applying the law to the evidence in this case, to predict the future of a dynamic market recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, in markedly uncertain times. For the reasons set forth above, therefore, the Court rules that the proposed acquisition violates Section 7 of the Clayton Act. Spirit is a small airline. But there are those who love it. To those dedicated customers of Spirit, this one’s for you. Why? Because the Clayton Act, a 109-year-old statute requires this result –- a statute that continues to deliver for the American people.

While there’s potentially an appeals process, if that isn’t successful, JetBlue is on the hook for a $470 million reverse breakup fee to Spirit, minus any fees already paid to Spirit shareholders. That’s because this was a condition of the agreement, if the deal couldn’t close on regulatory grounds.

Spirit won’t be taken over by JetBlue

What’s next for JetBlue, Spirit, and other airlines?

As you’d expect, Spirit Airlines shares are way down following this news, while JetBlue shares are up moderately. One certainly wonders what all of this means for the future of both airlines.

JetBlue has been struggling, and has argued that the only way that it can grow and compete with the big carriers is through a merger. That’s now off the table. The airline has a new CEO, but it’s an executive who has been at the airline for decades, so I can’t imagine the airline will really be changing directions.

The even bigger question is what the future holds for Spirit Airlines. Spirit Airlines isn’t in a good financial situation, and has been losing money for some time, with no real plan to change that, as the focus has been on getting this merger approved. Does the airline have an independent future?

While investors are generally a lot less optimistic about ultra low cost carriers than a year ago, could we see Frontier once again expressing interest in acquiring Spirit? After all, that seems to be the only kind of takeover that might not face regulatory issues, since it would be the merging of two ultra low cost carriers. Nowadays so many airline executives are saying that scale matters, and that the only way to compete is to be big, so I could see Frontier considering this again, if it can get the financing.

I’m also curious about the implications of this for Alaska’s takeover of Hawaiian, since there are questions as to whether or not there will be regulatory concerns there.

Goodness, what an announcement. Most of us can agree that an independent Spirit and independent JetBlue are better for consumers than a merged company, assuming they can stay in business independently. But that’s an absolutely massive “if.” These aren’t companies that are in good financial situations.

Yes, Spirit continuing to operate independently is good for consumers, but how is Spirit supposed to make money? The airline has been running an operating loss for a long time, so these fares aren’t profitable, and clearly consumers don’t value Spirit’s product in a way where it can be a win-win. What’s the plan to make Spirit profitable?

What does the future hold for JetBlue and Spirit?

Bottom line

A judge has blocked JetBlue’s takeover of Spirit, ruling that it violates the Clayton Act, and would be bad for competition. This is major, as the two airlines now need to focus on their independent futures. In particular, I can’t help but wonder what’s in store next for Spirit. Could we see a Frontier and Spirit merger be back on the table?

What do you make of the JetBlue and Spirit merger being blocked?

Conversations (77)
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  1. Dan Martin Guest

    I’m very happy the merger is off - Spirit is a tacky airline and would have damaged Jet Blue and hurt its brand.

  2. jonlom Guest

    The majority shareholders of both airlines are Vanguard and Blackrock. We act like we are preventing monopolies when Blackrock and Vanguard hold controlling shares of ALL the US airlines, not just these two. The idea that we are preventing a monopoly is about two decades too late. Blackrock, Vanguard, and State Street already own it all. There is no such thing as small airline vs big airline when the owners are the same institutional holders....

    The majority shareholders of both airlines are Vanguard and Blackrock. We act like we are preventing monopolies when Blackrock and Vanguard hold controlling shares of ALL the US airlines, not just these two. The idea that we are preventing a monopoly is about two decades too late. Blackrock, Vanguard, and State Street already own it all. There is no such thing as small airline vs big airline when the owners are the same institutional holders. This is for show only. Vanguard and Blackrock don't just own the airlines, they own EVERYTHING. Apple and Microsoft, Coke and Pepsi, and 99 percent of the brands of every shelf on every store. To pretend that the US is preventing monopolies is ridiculous when the controlling shares of nearly everything on this planet belong to Blackrock, State Street, and Vanguard. They have won the game, Capitalism is over.

  3. W Gold

    Maybe one of the Judge's exes or in-laws have a stake in Spirit Airlines' stock...

  4. ovacikar Member

    Since the issue at hand was low cost pricing of Spirit, JetBlue should have offered voluntarily have their prices regulated for 10 years. i.e. to keep existing routes and frequencies of all Spirit flights at the date of the merger, and only adjust prices annually for inflation.

  5. frrp Diamond

    Just read that ruling, was it being overseen by judge judy?

    Presumably the right/wrong ppl have/havent been paid off considering its the us lol

  6. Nick Guest

    I hope the DOJ does the same for KAL-Asiana merger. It is now very likely that EU will approve this monopolistic plan...

  7. Exit Row Seats Guest

    Should NK file chapter 7 or 11, B6 could benefit.
    Leasing agents would put their NEO airframes out to bid and pilots would jump ship. There would be a bidding war among the big three picking over the bones, but B6 could pick up a few experienced pilots and several compatible airframes along the way.

  8. Gerald P Guest

    WHO WINS?
    THE BIG USA THREE. AND THAT IS IT.

  9. Stan P Guest

    WTF ? Who is the judge ? One must wonder if was bribed /lobbied over or flies once per two years …., very shameful for its institution!

    OJ in airline world!

  10. Tim Dunn Diamond

    This merger blockage by the DOJ has major implications for the airline industry coupled with the Boeing mess. 2024 seemed like it was going to be a good year but 2 weeks into the year it looks like it might be another bad year for most of the industry.

    1. FlyerDon Guest

      Why are you so gloomy Tim? Boeing having quality control problems is nothing new and motivates many airlines to diversify their orders for new aircraft. If Spirit and Jet Blue go into bankruptcy so what? Most airlines flying today have flown through bankruptcy and, in some form or another, come out of it. Bankruptcy can give them some breathing room while trying to figure out the best way to move forward. The sun will come out tomorrow Tim, in fact it’s out today.

  11. Greg Guest

    Good. There is too much consolidation in American industry already.

  12. FlyerDon Guest

    My guess is if Jet Blue really wants a merger of some kind, they will wait until after the 2024 elections before pursuing one. If Trump should win I doubt he would care about any airline merging with another. He’s probably never heard of Spirit Airlines.

  13. Bob Guest

    Alaska + jetblue merge makes more sense to me especially since Alaska holds virgin America which jetblue really wanted.

    1. ORD_Is_My_Second_Home Member

      Not after Alaska got rid of Virgin America's fleet (which would have fit B6's) and dismantled the West Coast route network.

    2. Jason Brandt Lewis Guest

      Not really. jetBlue *did* want Virgin America -- you're absolutely correct, but (for some stupid reason), Alaska outbid them and merely enhanced itself, within limits, as a regional West Coast carrier. A B6/VX merger could have created a national carrier, but it was not to be.

      And ORD is correct: AS decided to rid itself of VX's Airbus fleet, which makes sense (in the same way it makes sense for WN to only fly 737s)...

      Not really. jetBlue *did* want Virgin America -- you're absolutely correct, but (for some stupid reason), Alaska outbid them and merely enhanced itself, within limits, as a regional West Coast carrier. A B6/VX merger could have created a national carrier, but it was not to be.

      And ORD is correct: AS decided to rid itself of VX's Airbus fleet, which makes sense (in the same way it makes sense for WN to only fly 737s) but stuck us with the MAX-9. Any advantage to a merger/takeover between AS and B6 means yet another purging of the fleet -- getting rid of Boeing or eliminating Airbus, depending upon who comes out on top...

  14. Sharon Guest

    This is a blessing in disguise. While Jetblue will be accountable for the breakup fee (less payments already made) this is likely less than the losses they would incur from taking on Spirit which is bleeding cash and from the very high integration costs. The breakup fee will likely be less than Spirit's loss for just Q4 2023 through Q1 2024.

    Jetblue now must take control over their business by:
    - restoring their...

    This is a blessing in disguise. While Jetblue will be accountable for the breakup fee (less payments already made) this is likely less than the losses they would incur from taking on Spirit which is bleeding cash and from the very high integration costs. The breakup fee will likely be less than Spirit's loss for just Q4 2023 through Q1 2024.

    Jetblue now must take control over their business by:
    - restoring their customer's trust (developing an on-time arrival rate)
    - modernizing the IT experience
    - recapture market share through further deployment of a220's

    Right now, Jetblue's two focus cities in Florida are Fort Lauderdale and Orlando which both face heavy competition. Southwest has just pulled out of international service that is very helpful. Jetblue needs to seriously reconsider deploying their assets and creating a new focus city in an growing market such as Nashville or Raleigh.

  15. Matt Z Guest

    Would AA-Jetblue relationship back to live?

  16. Anonymous Guest

    Jetblue tried the same as what AT&T tried and failed with Tmobile, taking out a close competitor off the market. And look where is Tmobile now.

    1. MaxPower Diamond

      That example would work if it was delta trying to take out spirit but the example doesn’t work with B6 and NK. B6 was trying to scale quickly to be able to compete with the big 3 carriers

    2. DuaneU2 Gold

      T Mobile merged with Sprint instead. So you're saying Spirit and Frontier should merge?

  17. roger Guest

    This was a poorly conceived Merger from the getgo.....like mixing Oil and Water and expecting Champagne. WTH were they kidding? SPIRIT and FRONTIER combining would be good for the consumer but never JetBlue with SPIRIT. Both carriers will struggle moving forward since both are in poor financial and operational shape. SPIRIT will more than likely fold completely and JetBlue will end up being broken up and sold in parts. This is a clear cut case...

    This was a poorly conceived Merger from the getgo.....like mixing Oil and Water and expecting Champagne. WTH were they kidding? SPIRIT and FRONTIER combining would be good for the consumer but never JetBlue with SPIRIT. Both carriers will struggle moving forward since both are in poor financial and operational shape. SPIRIT will more than likely fold completely and JetBlue will end up being broken up and sold in parts. This is a clear cut case where Management had visions of grandeur and thought they would pull off a fast one.

  18. TomAbro New Member

    Consolidation is part of the airline industry, it has been for decades, and it is what made the big three.
    Not all industry is the same nor do they function with the same structure. For a federal court not to realize that is unfortunate and will ultimately hurt consumers.

    1. Ole Guest

      Consumers are being hurt right now due to big 3. Consolidation is almost always bad for consumers (just look at US military’s defense procurement). Due to big 3, the prices have gone up, services has gone down and average consumer gets less for what they are paying for.

    2. Brian W Guest

      I disagree. The colidation of DL, UL, AA, and WN has allowed the companies to invest in wifi, better reliability, safety, and online transactions. The ability to make single digit profits also has helped the employees of these companies with having a stable job.

      Prior to consolidation, all these companies (except WN) sold a product below cost and went bankrupt.

    3. ImmortalSynn Guest

      "Due to big 3, the prices have gone up"

      Show us (because, there's actually not much actual data to suggest that at all).

  19. Mick Guest

    Is that actually the transcript from the court?! Sounds more like a news headline. Bizzare.

    1. MPS in Charlotte Gold

      I think the judge was borrowing a turn of phrase from Daniel Webster, who argued successfully before the Supreme Court on behalf of Dartmouth College in 1819: “It’s a small college, and yet there are those who love it.” It was a landmark case that fundamentally limited the power of state legislatures to alter or dissolve private businesses and contracts.

  20. UncleRonnie Guest

    If JetBlue and Spirit die, that’s almost 200 narrow body Airbus’ available for Alaska and United to buy to replace their cursed MAX fleets.

  21. Patrick Guest

    Neither airline is great financially at this point. They both have lots of debt. The merger would make that worse. The US needs airlines that can make money consistently. Combining 2 terrible balance sheets is not necessarily the best path forward. If they are both headed for bankruptcy, the best path is the least cost to taxpayers.

  22. Peter N Guest

    Legacy Carriers didn't want more competition and probably helped influence this. These carriers are too small to compete with the bigger legacy carriers and combining the smaller ones would help, but of course this would never happen. Now were still stuck with just three that control almost all the routes across the U.S.

    1. ImmortalSynn Guest

      "and probably helped influence this."

      How would they have done that?

      This was a lawsuit in federal court. Are you saying they bought off a judge? Because that's a fairly lofty claim, to make without any kind of evidence.

    2. Santos Guest

      Ever heard of an amicus brief?

    3. ImmortalSynn Guest

      What's that going to do against the number of unions who also wrote them, but in opposition.

    4. shza Gold

      Santos, a fitting name for someone pretending to have knowledge or credentials to talk about legal issues they don't understand. Amicus briefs are filed with appellate courts, not in trial courts. None was filed here. (And amicus briefs rarely have much effect on decisions even in those appeals where they are filed.)

    5. Santos Guest

      I stand corrected! I always tell my kids not to talk out of their a** online if they don’t know the details, so I willfully take my own lesson on this one. My larger point was that there are many legal avenues to influence before bribery is involved. As for my name, I had it before the congressman of ill repute. What can ya do?

  23. O"CONNOR Guest

    SPIRIT has to significantly raise fares or ELSE!
    Spirit lost $158 million in the 3rd quarter.
    Lost $554 million in 2022.
    Has debt of $6.68 Billion.
    Trying to keep ait fares low by Judicial
    rulings on small players in the business
    is at best wishful ignorance!

    1. George Romey Guest

      The problem for Spirit is that their customer base is already being squeezed by higher living costs so there's less money for travel. The business model is built upon fully packed planes. Even a modest decline in load factors and they're toast. They make money on high volume/load factors. ancillary fees and keeping costs to a bare minimum. That's become harder to pull off.

    2. Eixt Row Seat Guest

      Add to the pain that many of its PAX have student loans that are now payable. Equivalent to a mortgage on your back as you start your career. Any discretionary spending is out the window.

  24. Ole Guest

    To everyone whining about DOJ and Biden, I thought, US of A is a free market economy. So I am confused about the whining. Clearly, the market has said, in their current form, JetBlue and Spirit’s products do not have enough takers for them to survive let alone thrive. So, they should either reinvent or fold. Isn’t this how private companies in free market capitalism supposed to work?

    1. Regis Guest

      I think you are confused. Free market means conducting business free from government intervention. Therefore, in a true free market economy, airlines would have the freedom to conduct their business as they wish, including merging if they so decide. The fact that the government blocked two private business' decision to unite their operations is proof we don't live in a free market economy.

    2. Ole Guest

      What you are referring to is an ideal world. We don’t live in one and I bet no one would want to. The practical definition is minimal government intervention (and this was minimal). Because when private enterprises are allowed to maximize profits without any oversight or regulation, we get anarchy (2008 was just a small example of what could go wrong).

      If the whiners here were ok with government intervention in 2008, they better cut...

      What you are referring to is an ideal world. We don’t live in one and I bet no one would want to. The practical definition is minimal government intervention (and this was minimal). Because when private enterprises are allowed to maximize profits without any oversight or regulation, we get anarchy (2008 was just a small example of what could go wrong).

      If the whiners here were ok with government intervention in 2008, they better cut their whining about JB and Spirit.

  25. ricky Guest

    Now they worry about pricing and competition? They should have blocked American/USAir, Delta/Northwest, and United/Continental.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Why?

      You got three airlines that could compete to all corners, versus 7 regionals with no impact in large markets; and there's no evidence to suggest that fares rose relative to pre-2010s adjusted for inflation.

      So while it's popular to repeat this line, it isn't really borne out.......

    2. GUWonder Guest

      Clinton was so corporation-friendly — helps to land yourself and your near and dear ones with plum seats on the BODs of companies post-Admin — that his DOJ and nominees to the federal judiciary were more or less corporate kiss-ups too. The previous and later Republican Administrations were in the pockets of the US Chamber of Commerce types and they too have been fully on board with corporation-friendly judges being appointed to the federal judiciary....

      Clinton was so corporation-friendly — helps to land yourself and your near and dear ones with plum seats on the BODs of companies post-Admin — that his DOJ and nominees to the federal judiciary were more or less corporate kiss-ups too. The previous and later Republican Administrations were in the pockets of the US Chamber of Commerce types and they too have been fully on board with corporation-friendly judges being appointed to the federal judiciary. The end result between a cowed bureaucracy and an intellectually-bought federal judiciary was that a lot of anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions were allowed despite the harm to be done to consumers.

      As soon as Clinton stopped listening to Robert Reich in any meaningful way, the Clinton Admin was about as good as useless in protecting consumer interests. It’s the Clinton Admin that gave us banks “too big to fail” by pushing for the end of the division between investment banking, other broker-dealers and commercial banking.

    3. Matt Guest

      Under this view then yeah there may be an argument they might not have got approval if they were to happen today. politics change and there is a more aggressive stance against mergers compared to 10 years ago.

      It looks a little strange because in most markets, regulators get concerned when it results in a reduction in competitors from 4 to 3 players. But this would be creating a 5th large airline group.

      ...

      Under this view then yeah there may be an argument they might not have got approval if they were to happen today. politics change and there is a more aggressive stance against mergers compared to 10 years ago.

      It looks a little strange because in most markets, regulators get concerned when it results in a reduction in competitors from 4 to 3 players. But this would be creating a 5th large airline group.

      I think they must be saying that DL, AA, and UA (and possibly WN) are not CLOSE competitors and therefore do not provide a strong constraint on pricing.

      You would think that Breeze and Avelo entries and Allegiant and Frontier growth would demonstrate competition and constraint on pricing. But I guess they are not large enough to provide enough constraint.

    4. DD Guest

      Who do you mean by "they"?

  26. Bob Guest

    Both of these airlines are going to be in Chapter 11 by 3Q. This isn’t a win for anyone. In fact the most laughable part of this is that it benefits competition for customers. It doesn’t. It just pushed one or both airlines into bankruptcy or likely liquidation and with it tens of thousands of jobs. Oh and those $99 fares to Florida, good luck.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      The Southwest+AirTran merger left a very sour taste in regulators' mouths, as the former essentially just used it to get access to ATL gates and a few cheap 73Gs. Everything else was more or less discarded, and prices within the market are higher than ever, even relative to general inflation.

      The idea of a corporate White Knight just doesn't have the luster that it once did, and the court's agreement on the Clayton Act violation really showcases that.

    2. Anthony Diamond

      The Alaska/Virgin merger was also a disaster for service breadth, fares, etc.

      I know people say the legacy mergers weren't challenged enough (Delta/Northwest, AA/US, United/Continental, etc), but these recent mergers have done little or nothing for consumers.

    3. rct12345 Member

      @ConcordeBoy, you're right that the creation of big 4 with their mergers (AA, DL, UA and WN) has been bad for customers. However, it has been far worse for their competitors. The smaller competitors are being punished for the mergers granted for the big 4. Currently, all smaller players after big 4 are suffering (specially the ones in recent news: Jetblue/Spirit/Alaska/Hawaiian).

      To have a fair competition, either you should let there be additional bigger players...

      @ConcordeBoy, you're right that the creation of big 4 with their mergers (AA, DL, UA and WN) has been bad for customers. However, it has been far worse for their competitors. The smaller competitors are being punished for the mergers granted for the big 4. Currently, all smaller players after big 4 are suffering (specially the ones in recent news: Jetblue/Spirit/Alaska/Hawaiian).

      To have a fair competition, either you should let there be additional bigger players (like big 6/7) or breakup the big 4 because in the current landscape only the big 4 will thrive.

    4. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      you're right that the creation of big 4 with their mergers (AA, DL, UA and WN) has been bad for customers.

      I did not say that.

      In fact, you don't see equivalent fare disparity among the full-service carriers as they dropped from 7 to 3 within the 2000-2020 time frame.

      Also, in fact three major full-service carriers within a general region is widely become the market's "sweet spot" spanning the globe. We see it...

      you're right that the creation of big 4 with their mergers (AA, DL, UA and WN) has been bad for customers.

      I did not say that.

      In fact, you don't see equivalent fare disparity among the full-service carriers as they dropped from 7 to 3 within the 2000-2020 time frame.

      Also, in fact three major full-service carriers within a general region is widely become the market's "sweet spot" spanning the globe. We see it with the USA3, the PRC3 (CA/MU/CZ), the ME3 (EK/QR/EY), the ASEAN3 (SQ/TG/PR) etc.

      There's even argument that AC should be included with the USA3 for the region, TK with the ME3, and GA with the ASEAN3.

      So, no. They're about where they should be. The lower cost players, on the other hand..........

    5. FlyerDon Guest

      Hey CB, how do you define a full service airline these days?

    6. Matt Guest

      There is no 3 sweet spot!

      There are 4 big carriers in USA.

      China is not a free market. The state controls and restricts the airlines. It basically owns them. So nothing natural or sweet there.

      ASEAN3??? Where did you pull this random group from? You could easily add MH and GA to this group to get ASEAN5! I think people would compare SQ to CX more than any other Asian airline. TG...

      There is no 3 sweet spot!

      There are 4 big carriers in USA.

      China is not a free market. The state controls and restricts the airlines. It basically owns them. So nothing natural or sweet there.

      ASEAN3??? Where did you pull this random group from? You could easily add MH and GA to this group to get ASEAN5! I think people would compare SQ to CX more than any other Asian airline. TG has been a disaster for decades so can hardly be called a sweet spot.

      ME3 has really turned into ME2. Etihad has been suffering for quite a while and rumours of merger with Emirates have been persistent. It has survived with subsidies. What about Turkish and Saudia?!

      IAG, AF/KLM and LH in Europe happen to be a 3. But then they operate multiple airlines so not sure this works.

    7. ImmortalSynn Guest

      "China is not a free market."

      Nor is just about any other large aviation market, yet. Argentina, if it moves forward, will likely be the first. You aren't naive enough to think that the USA and Europe are though, are you?

    8. MildMidwesterner Diamond

      It's hard to argue that the big 4 are bad for consumers. Right now, the U.S. airline industry has better connectivity than anytime in history (save, perhaps for the time right before the pandemic), a remarkable safety record, more fare classes to choose from, and -- when adjusted for inflation -- cheaper fares, too. It's actually a very good time to be a traveler.

  27. ML Guest

    If only B6 had premium lawyers, they would've easily won this case.

  28. Jerry Guest

    In every market where spirit operates, they are usually priced at least 40% less than other carriers. That’s why we needed them to survive as an independent airline. This is a great decision by the judge.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jerry -- Sure, they're priced lower, but with nothing included. The bigger question is how Spirit is supposed to make money? The airline hasn't made money in a long time, so the business model isn't working. How do they change that?

    2. Mike Guest

      Sounds like spirits problem, nobody else’s @ben.

    3. Matt Guest

      And they have been losing a lot of money doing it. Hence the rationale to merge (either with Frontier or JetBlue) and grow scale to cut costs.

      Now that looks out the window. I guess they could try to merger with Frontier again. But not sure they will want to go through another antitrust process with uncertain outcome.

      So they need to quickly turn around losses. This will be to either increase prices or to cut the unprofitable routes. Or both.

  29. Mike Guest

    And why Biden? The judge was appointed by TRUMP

    1. Dan Guest

      Okay? They can sue anybody but that doesn’t mean they get what they want. They present a case and the other side presents a case and then the judge decides. If you’re mad at anybody be mad at the judge.

    2. Kelly Fitzsimmons Guest

      Nope. Judge was appointed by Reagan.

  30. JFKflier Guest

    B6 has been digging their grave for quite a while now...ranking dead last in OTP for the last 3-5 years, would make you think they would first get their house in order, but nope...$500M + whatever they had to give to Robin + likely a absolutely livid staff, yeah their days are numbered.

  31. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    Hardly surprising, as it would've taken one of (if not "the") largest ULCC flying, and stuffed it with a hybrid carrier that has no clear/consistent idea what it actually wants to be.

    F9+NK may have had a chance, as it just would've created a more powerfull ULCC to go against the Big3 and WN.

    IMO, this never did.

  32. Anthony Diamond

    Right or wrong, it is hard to see a meaningful airline merger (excluding Alaska/Hawaii, which is a bit idiosyncratic) being approved with the current DOJ/administration.

    I do think Spirit, in terms of offering low fares, is better for low fare customers as an independent company than part of JetBlue.

    The lesson of the recent DOJ/court actions (outside a big change in the political environment) is that airlines need to simply compete better, not rely on...

    Right or wrong, it is hard to see a meaningful airline merger (excluding Alaska/Hawaii, which is a bit idiosyncratic) being approved with the current DOJ/administration.

    I do think Spirit, in terms of offering low fares, is better for low fare customers as an independent company than part of JetBlue.

    The lesson of the recent DOJ/court actions (outside a big change in the political environment) is that airlines need to simply compete better, not rely on tie ups, alliances, mergers...

    1. Matt Guest

      I think that’s right for the big guys. But I don’t think AA, DL, UA or WN expect to merge or buy anything.

      Remember UA/US merger was blocked and it sent US into Chapter 11 and merged with America west. Arguably all the major consolidation was allowed because most of the airlines were in Chapter 11 and the industry was suffering and exits were likely to happen without merger consolidation.

      I suspect B6/NK...

      I think that’s right for the big guys. But I don’t think AA, DL, UA or WN expect to merge or buy anything.

      Remember UA/US merger was blocked and it sent US into Chapter 11 and merged with America west. Arguably all the major consolidation was allowed because most of the airlines were in Chapter 11 and the industry was suffering and exits were likely to happen without merger consolidation.

      I suspect B6/NK will feel really hard done by as they think they were creating a strong 5th player to compete against the merger. Clearly DoJ won the argument that it was actually eliminating low cost competition that the majors don’t constrain and there would be incentive to raise prices. It appears B6 started to run the potential of NK exiting the market without consolidation (or raising prices) but the courts haven’t bought it.

      I think Alaska / Hawaiian will happen because many of the markets are different. (Eg HA doesn’t operate mainland to mainland flights). However I think they will have to address the Hawaii / West Coast overlap routes. Disposals to JetBlue or southwest?

  33. Matthew Guest

    6 months to a JetBlue bankruptcy filing. Thanks DOJ and Biden. Great job!

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Right, because we've never seen an airline bankruptcy in the US prior to Joe Biden?

      Anyway, back in the real world:
      Chpt11, though painful, might be the best thing that could happen for B6.

      Shed the remainder of their Embraer commitments, cut costs, regroup, and figure out what they actually want to be: a transatlantic/S.American-serving premium carrier, or a consistent low-cost-basic-service provider.

      Trying to do both, ain't working.

    2. MM Guest

      uh, how would absorbing another money-losing airline with a worse balance sheet slow down the timeline to a JB Ch11?

    3. Matt Guest

      Maybe. More likely is that B6 will just need to focus on a new strategy. Their energy for the last year will have been spent on thinking about the merger strategy rather than operating as a standalone airline.

      Maybe start working with AA on the NEA appeal but wouldn’t hold your breath that will pass.

  34. Never In Doubt Guest

    You can’t be surprised by this. It was the likely outcome.

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Bob Guest

Both of these airlines are going to be in Chapter 11 by 3Q. This isn’t a win for anyone. In fact the most laughable part of this is that it benefits competition for customers. It doesn’t. It just pushed one or both airlines into bankruptcy or likely liquidation and with it tens of thousands of jobs. Oh and those $99 fares to Florida, good luck.

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rct12345 Member

@ConcordeBoy, you're right that the creation of big 4 with their mergers (AA, DL, UA and WN) has been bad for customers. However, it has been far worse for their competitors. The smaller competitors are being punished for the mergers granted for the big 4. Currently, all smaller players after big 4 are suffering (specially the ones in recent news: Jetblue/Spirit/Alaska/Hawaiian). To have a fair competition, either you should let there be additional bigger players (like big 6/7) or breakup the big 4 because in the current landscape only the big 4 will thrive.

4
Patrick Guest

Neither airline is great financially at this point. They both have lots of debt. The merger would make that worse. The US needs airlines that can make money consistently. Combining 2 terrible balance sheets is not necessarily the best path forward. If they are both headed for bankruptcy, the best path is the least cost to taxpayers.

3
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