From the Right



Proposed Airline Merger Would Bring More Competition and Lower Fares

Stephen Moore on

If you want to see a classic case of how President Joe Biden's regulatory tendencies are strangling the U.S. economy and raising prices, look no further than the latest Justice Department efforts to kill an airline merger that is pro-consumer.

JetBlue has its sights on merging with a smaller and financially ailing airline, Spirit.

JetBlue's management believes the synergies between the two airlines will save over $300 million in costs. Spirit's shareholders (i.e., the airline's owners) have voted to approve the merger.

Spirit is like a cancer patient in chemotherapy. Industry analysts say that there's a 50-50 chance Spirit will go bankrupt without a suitor. A bankruptcy would crush Spirit shareholders, cause thousands of airline workers to lose their jobs, and enable other bigger airlines to swoop in and purchase its assets and its valuable airport landing rights at fire sale prices.

No one benefits from that scenario.

So, what's the holdup here? The Biden Justice Department is holding up the marriage on questionable antitrust grounds.


A strong case could be made that a successful merger between the two smaller airlines will enhance competition and lower prices by creating a larger discount airline. Today, about 70% of domestic flights are on four carriers -- American, Delta, Southwest and United. JetBlue controls just about 6% of the market (while Spirit's has shrunk to about 4%).

A merger like this is hardly going to allow JetBlue to monopolize the market or drive up prices. Regulators are concerned that in certain markets like Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the two airlines directly compete, ticket prices may rise. This ignores that without the merger, Spirit may simply close.

JetBlue is ranked as one of the best airlines for customer satisfaction. To compete more effectively with the big boys, it needs scale.

According to JetBlue's merger plans, the airline will leverage the infrastructure, employees and management of Spirit to schedule 1,700 more flights to 125 cities in 30 countries. This benefits -- it doesn't hurt -- consumers with more choices.


swipe to next page

Copyright 2023 Creators Syndicate Inc.




Pat Bagley David Horsey Gary Varvel Adam Zyglis Darrin Bell Jeff Danziger