DOJ moving to block JetBlue-Spirit airline merger: reports

The Biden administration will attempt to block the $3.8 billion JetBlue acquisition of Spirit Airlines, which has faced criticism over possible antitrust violations, according to reports.

Both the Justice Department and the Transportation Department are expected to begin proceedings to block the takeover, according to Bloomberg and Politico, citing people familiar with the case.

Justice officials are expected to file an antitrust suit arguing that the JetBlue takeover of Spirit would eliminate flight choices for consumers and increase ticket prices, according to Bloomberg. The Transportation Department is expected to launch a simultaneous motion to also block the deal.

The purchase of Spirit by JetBlue was approved by shareholders last October. The federal government action is expected to delay and potentially derail the acquisition, which must be closed by early 2024.

The Biden administration has made improving consumer experience with airlines a priority, with widespread flight delays and a string of close-calls between aircraft making national headlines in recent months. The federal government, particularly Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, has faced immense scrutiny over its handling of the incidents.

JetBlue released a statement on Monday defending the purchase, arguing the merger would push competitor fares down and that the two airlines primarily compete against other airlines and not each other.

The Justice Department and Transportation Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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