JetBlue announced Wednesday that it will be ending its Northeast Alliance (NEA) with American Airlines, nearly two months after a judge struck down the partnership.
“Despite our deep conviction in the procompetitive benefits of the NEA, after much consideration, JetBlue has made the difficult decision not to appeal the court’s determination that the NEA cannot continue as currently crafted, and has instead initiated the termination of the NEA, beginning a wind down process that will take place over the coming months,” the airline said in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin ruled in May that the accord between the two major airline companies violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, which was designed to stop monopolistic business practices that could hurt competition. The judge had ruled in favor of the Justice Department (DOJ) and six states and the District of Columbia that sued to end the alliance.
JetBlue said in its statement that the NEA had allowed the airline to offer expanded routes, lower prices and connecting flight services. The airline also said that there will be no immediate changes for customers who had already scheduled flights and will be able to continue to earn rewards over the next few months.
“For these reasons, we strongly disagree with the court’s ruling against the NEA and stand behind the procompetitive impact of the alliance,” the company’s statement read.
American Airlines issued its own statement addressing the dissolution of the alliance.
“JetBlue has advised us that it will not join the appeal of the District Court ruling in the Northeast Alliance case. We, of course, respect JetBlue’s decision to focus on its other antitrust and regulatory challenges. At the same time, JetBlue’s decision and reasoning confirm our belief that the NEA has been highly pro-competitive and that an erroneous judicial decision disregarding the NEA’s consumer benefits has led to an anticompetitive outcome.”
JetBlue also said that now it will focus on its partnership with Spirit Airlines, saying that it is “the best and most effective opportunity to truly transform the competitive landscape in the U.S.”
After the ruling in May, the DOJ offered a proposal that would order American and JetBlue to end most aspects of their partnership immediately and said that both airlines should honor existing tickets before rolling back their sharing of airport gates and takeoff and landing slots. JetBlue said that the proposal was “too onerous and overreaching,” adding that it ignored “arguments the DOJ itself presented at trial about the benefits of similar aspects of other domestic carrier partnerships.”
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