JetBlue, Spirit push low fare merger narrative to skeptical DOJ

When requested for particulars about how the merger might drive down costs, Hayes mentioned fares are a “operate of capability” and that Spirit flights will undertake JetBlue’s seat configuration. Although which means fewer seats, he argued that clients would nonetheless save as a result of planes within the new, mixed airline will spend extra time within the air and fewer time on the bottom.

“One of many advantages of bringing these two airways collectively is we will improve the utilization of the airline,” Hayes mentioned. “You’ve gotten extra choices to fly that subsequent route to improve the size of time within the day that you simply’re flying.”

Christie acknowledged that fares on some routes might improve if the merger is authorised. However he argued that the brand new airline would lead to decreased fare prices total.


Fares are “based mostly on reserving patterns taking place at that individual time. So you can in all probability derive particular person circumstances the place you may even see modest modifications in fare,” Christie mentioned. “However what’s extra essential to concentrate on is the combination impact of the bigger airline,” he mentioned. “I believe lots of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} shall be saved.”

Nonetheless, as a result of the mixed airline will finally find yourself eradicating seats, Justice Division officers aren’t satisfied that the brand new firm gained’t be pressured to elevate costs to recoup these losses, folks with data of the matter mentioned.

DOJ’s resolution coming quickly

DOJ has somewhat greater than per week to make a closing name on whether or not to sue. The events had beforehand agreed on a deadline of Feb. 28, however one of many folks conversant in the matter now says that date is anticipated to slip. Hayes on Thursday additionally famous that these agreements can all the time be prolonged.

He added that JetBlue has been in discussions “with quite a lot of state [attorneys general] as effectively.” And he additionally mentioned that there shall be “over the subsequent week or two, a really vital quantity of political bipartisan help for this transaction.” Hayes declined to touch upon any particular conferences with the DOJ.

The businesses’ argument earlier than DOJ is basically that they need to merge so as to compete with the large 4 legacy airways, Delta Air Strains, American Airways, Southwest Airways and United Airways. As soon as merged, the brand new entity can be the fifth greatest, behind that group.

DOJ antitrust head Jonathan Kanter, who has an aggressive mandate to struggle company deal-making, is unlikely to purchase that argument.

Kanter nonetheless has recused himself from the case as a result of his former legislation agency, Paul Weiss, represents Spirit, in accordance to one of many folks. That would go away the choice within the arms of his deputy, Doha Mekki, and virtually it could have little impression.

A DOJ spokesperson didn’t instantly reply for remark.

Hayes has mentioned a number of instances prior to now two weeks that the businesses intend to struggle for his or her deal in courtroom, if obligatory.

Airways’ provide to grease the skids

To handle DOJ’s issues, JetBlue has provided to dump the whole thing of Spirit’s operations at Newark Liberty Worldwide Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Boston Logan Worldwide Airport, in addition to 5 slots at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Worldwide Airport.

These had been picked amid DOJ issues that JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance with American Airways reduces competitors and client selection, mentioned JetBlue Senior Vice President of Authorities Affairs Robert Land.

Land mentioned the businesses are in “superior” talks with potential patrons for all of the property up on the market, including that the 4 largest airways aren’t a part of the divestiture talks.


Not at the moment on the desk is a proposal to abandon the alliance, which the DOJ challenged in courtroom final yr and is at the moment awaiting a ruling from a federal decide in Boston.

“Let’s wait and see what the decide’s verdict is. If we lose the NEA, proper, the NEA is off the desk,” Hayes mentioned, “If we win the NEA, we gained the NEA as a result of it’s pro-competition. Frankly, we will use quite a lot of slots leased to us by American to assist JetBlue be greater.”

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