American Airlines and JetBlue lost their bid to dismiss the Justice Department’s lawsuit

A judge ruled Thursday that an antitrust lawsuit challenging an arrangement between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways that allowed airlines to sell others’ seats on select routes in the northeastern United States could go to trial.

In a two-page decision, U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin in Massachusetts said the question of whether the alliance between the two companies was likely to harm competition was a question of “a trial, not an application pending disapproval.” Sorokin added that the argument was a matter “on which the Court takes no position”.

The trial date has been set for September 26.

The Department of Justice seeks to break the alliance between the US company JetBlue

Seeking to dismiss the case, American and JetBlue argued that the complaint filed in September by the Department of Justice and attorneys general in six states and the capital was “flawed” because it “did not claim that the airline alliance harmed competition, instead. It” likely that detrimental to competition” or “likely to have” various adverse effects.

However, Sorokin wrote that the complaint “reasonably claims – in a manner that is neither final nor flimsy – that the contested alliance between American and JetBlue is likely to harm competition in related markets, and that American and JetBlue control a significant share of an already concentrated market.”

The Ministry of Justice has not commented on the ruling.

“We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the significant customer benefits and increased competition offered by the Northeast alliance,” American Airlines said in a statement.

JetBlue said the alliance continues to benefit consumers as it has created a viable third competitor in the Northeast, adding: “We are confident the court will rule in our favour after we present the facts in September.”

American and JetBlue announced the partnership in July 2020. In January 2021, shortly before the end of the Trump administration, officials at the Department of Transportation allowed the deal to go ahead as long as certain conditions were met. The alliance began operating the following month.

US, JetBlue asks judge to dismiss lawsuit seeking dissolution of partnership

In September, the Justice Department, along with attorneys general in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the county, sought to scrap the agreement, claiming the partnership could harm customers by “dramatically reducing JetBlue’s incentive to compete with America elsewhere, further increasing Solidifying an already highly focused industry.”

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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