American Airlines and JetBlue said they filed a motion to dismiss the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against the Northeast Alliance.
The petition was filed Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Boston. The Northeast alliance, announced in July 2020, would allow American and JetBlue to coordinate their schedules at airports in the Northeast. The Transport Department approved, but the Justice Department said in September it would oppose the arrangement.
In their case, American and JetBlue say the DOJ lawsuit lacks evidence of a market-wide anti-competitive impact.
“The complaint is flawed in law because the plaintiffs did not allege that the NEA had in fact harmed competition,” the carriers said. “The NEA has been running for nine months, but the complainants do not allege that it caused a single increase in prices, any reduction in quality or any reduction in production.
“The antitrust law is clear on the legal standards applicable to collaborations between competitors such as the NEA,” the carriers said. As long as they involve “efficiency-enhancing integration of economic activity” – which is undisputed with regard to the NEA – they are generally considered to be pro-competitive. “
American and JetBlue said the alliance was not a merger and that it was not possible to infer negative effects “using analytical tools from merger analysis” and that ‘It was not viable to speculate that indefinite prejudice would emerge in the future.
The Department of Justice has 21 days to respond to the request.
In its memorandum, the carriers state: “Since implementation began in February 2021, the NEA has enabled American and JetBlue to provide consumers with the benefits of a wider and deeper network at these airports – more of flights and seats to more places – so that each airline can become more competitive with the dominant carriers in the Northeast, ”said Delta and United, American and JetBlue in a memorandum supporting their motion.
They say they informed the Ministry of Transport before implementing the alliance. The department authorized the NEA to move forward, “conditioned by a set of commitments designed to ensure that the NEA increases production as promised.” The commitments included the divestiture of take-off and landing slots as well as growth targets for American and JetBlue.