In what can only be described as a giant corporate version of the “Parents forbid star-crossed lovers from being together” trope, the Justice Department is going to court to keep JetBlue and American Airlines apart.
The two carriers formed a codesharing alliance in the Northeast last year, sharing routes and allowing customers to book tickets via each other’s sites. The goal was to help compete against the larger airlines that currently dominate the region. However, with JetBlue and American set to control more than 50% of the key routes from NYC to Boston, the Biden administration effectively views the agreement as a merger that will drive up the cost of airfare for customers.
The administration is up against some tough precedent, though. Despite taking a hard stance on corporate competition, there have already been multiple major mergers and acquisitions this year. High-level executives, including the CEO of JetBlue, are expected to be testifying during the trial.
At the same time, JetBlue is also in the middle of a deal to take over Spirit Airlines. Yet another corporate metaphor for “Will they? Won’t they?”. The industry-shaking deal has been criticized in a similar manner by the government and was slowed by a bidding war with Frontier (the other woman, if we’re continuing the trope).