WASHINGTON, DC — In welcome news for consumers, JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines announced the companies are abandoning plans to merge after a federal court ruled in favor of the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against the proposed deal. While Biden administration regulators detailed how the merger would lead to higher consumer fares and diminished route options under further monopolization of the industry, government watchdog Accountable.US spotlighted JetBlue and Spirit disclosures showing underinvestment and vulnerabilities in their businesses that could make them susceptible to massive service failures leaving consumers vulnerable to cancellations and delays during peak travel seasons. 

The Biden administration was right to object to this deal that would have created nothing but a turbulent situation for consumers -- from higher fares, fewer travel routes, and the greater likelihood of mass cancellations during extreme weather events."

Accountable.US’ Liz Zelnick

“For both JetBlue and Spirit, the priority has been enriching their executives rather than making necessary investments in infrastructure and emergency preparedness – which only invites major travel disruptions. Less competition in the U.S. airline industry would leave consumers holding the bag.”

Accountable.US found JetBlue and Spirit set aside millions of dollars for their executives that could have otherwise been spent on infrastructure improvements. After taking a combined $2.75 billion in pandemic bailouts, Spirit and Jetblue boosted their CEOs’ compensation packages in 2021 for totals nearing $3.9 million and $3.5 million, respectively. In 2022, both CEOs still maintained compensation packages exceeding $3 million.

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