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American-JetBlue Alliance Could Face Justice Department Review

After implementing their partnership focused on the northeast, American Airlines and JetBlue could be called before the U.S. Department of Justice. The agency is considering moving forward with an antitrust probe, on concerns that their plans could reduce competition and increase airfare.

One of the newest airline partnerships could run afoul of the U.S. Department of Justice, on concerns that their alliance could reduce competition and inflate airfare. The Wall Street Journal reports the agency could be moving forward with an antitrust investigation against both carriers.

American-JetBlue Alliance Creates Antitrust Concerns Over Lack of Competition

According to those familiar with the matter, Department of Justice insiders are concerned about how the alliance could affect competition in the northeast. The two carriers came together with a focus on airports in New York and in New England, which has traditionally been a weak spot for the Fort Worth-based airline.

However, with JetBlue looking to take over certain slots held by American, and American codesharing on a number of JetBlue flights, there are concerns that competition could decrease, which could drive prices up for flyers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation approved the partnership under the leadership of former secretary Elaine Chao, after both airlines agreed to divest slots at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA). Since then, Airways Magazine reports both Spirit Airlines and Southwest Airlines have requested a review by a department led by president Joe Biden’s appointee, Pete Buttigieg. While a spokesperson for the DOT told the Journal they were “evaluating the record,” the Justice Department hasn’t commented on their probe.

Its not the first time the partnership has faced scrutiny. In February 2021, the Air Line Pilots Association did not back a contract change based on the alliance, on concerns that pilots could lose work.

Probe Potential Comes After JetBlue Announces Partnership with Qatar Airways

The possibility of a new investigation comes as JetBlue launched a deeper partnership with another Oneworld airline: Qatar Airways. Under their new announcement, JetBlue will codeshare with the Middle East carrier on several outbound flights from the U.S. to Doha, as well as other international flights out of Qatar.

AsiaTravel2019 April 16, 2021

Ah yes. Called it. Despite getting shouted down in the forum, I knew DOJ would come sniffing around this. B6 should have just joined OneWorld