Issue No. 832

U.S. Sues to Split Up American and JetBlue

Justice Calls the Northeast Alliance Anticompetitive; the Airlines Vow to Fight Back

Pushing Back: Inside the Issue

We thought it could happen when the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) said it was looking into the American Airlines-JetBlue Airways Northeast Alliance. And it did. Last week, the DOJ filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging that the Northeast Alliance is anticompetitive. Also not surprising: Both airlines immediately fought back. American CEO Doug Parker flatly said of DOJ, "They are wrong, and we will prove it."

Consensus seems to be that the DOJ's case is unlikely to unwind the alliance. The two airlines may be forced to divest more slots at congested Eastern airports, but the alliance will stand. But the suit could have a chilling effect on further consolidation, or "consolidation-lite." And although the structure of the American-Alaska Airlines alliance on the West Coast is different, it remains to be seen if that deal will also come under scrutiny.

Elsewhere in this issue, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian hinted that the carrier could add Boeing 737 Max aircraft to its fleet. If true, it would be the carrier's first major Boeing order in a decade. Airbus jumps into the eVTOL sector and lends its huge credibility to so-called "air taxis." And bookings surged by, in some cases, triple digits in the days after the Biden administration announced the U.S. will start admitting vaccinated travelers in November.

The Airline Weekly Lounge Podcast

This week in the Lounge, Edward Russell and Madhu Unnikrishnan recount the Skift Global Forum and their chats with the leaders — or incoming leaders — of Air France-KLM and Southwest Airlines. And they debate whether the U.S. Department of Justice will be successful in its suit to break up American Airlines and JetBlue Airways in the Northeast. For a full archive of the podcast, go here. A new episode drops every week.

Weekly Skies

The Justice Department (DOJ) on September 21 challenged American Airlines' and JetBlue Airways' Northeast Alliance in federal court. The suit filed in federal district court for the District of Massachusetts calls into question the alliance and refutes the airlines' claims…

Landing Strip

The good news is that the U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) is extending slot waivers until March 26, 2022 for international flights. The bad news? The agency is considering ending the waivers for domestic flights.

State of the Unions

Norse Atlantic Airways has struck its latest deal with a union. The carrier, which has yet to take its first flight, has sought to fend of the labor challenges that bedeviled Norwegian Air, through a charm offensive with unions. Earlier…

Sky Money

Aviation Capital Group closed a sale of $750 million in 1.95 percent senior unsecured notes due 2026 with a 7.728 percent yield-to-maturity. Proceeds will be used to purchase aircraft, repay debt and for general corporate purposes. Gol has priced a…

Routes and Networks

Following the U.S. decision last week to ease entry restrictions for vaccinated travelers from November, airlines are moving to capture what many think will be strong yearend holiday demand. Only one new route is planned so far: Condor will add…


Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian sees a “place” for the Boeing 737 Max at the carrier as it looks for opportunistic deals to reshape its fleet over the next decade. This would be Delta’s first major Boeing order in…