JetBlue has entered into its second agreement with one of its competitors in a bid to appease regulators in its merger case with Spirit Airlines.
This time, JetBlue has agreed to give over Spirit Airlines assets at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to Allegiant Air.
According to JetBlue, Allegiant Air will receive two gates at BOS and EWR each, as well as 43 takeoff and landing authorizations at EWR. Meanwhile, JetBlue will relinquish up to five gates at FLL to the Broward County Aviation Department, working closely with the department “to facilitate Allegiant’s ULCC growth at FLL using these gates”.
The transactions related to JetBlue’s agreement with Allegiant Air are all subject to the approval of local authorities, the United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Furthermore, JetBlue will only transfer these Spirit Airlines assets under the condition that the Department of Justice (DOJ) approves the merger between the two carriers, which the former expects to close in H1 2024.
“Over the past twenty years, JetBlue has established itself as a competition MVP, bringing high-quality, affordable service to a wide variety of travelers across the United States,” Robin Hayes, the chief executive officer (CEO) at JetBlue, said.
Hayes added that the move to further divest Spirit Airlines assets “while not needed to ensure the continued growth of the vibrant ultra-low-cost carrier segment, is aimed at removing any doubt of our commitment to promoting competition.”
Drew Wells, the chief revenue officer (CRO) at Allegiant Air, said that the low-cost carrier is committed to growth in areas such as New York, Boston, and Florida, with the agreement allowing it to expand services in those three locations. Wells added that the agreement will also “ensure that customers have even more access to affordable, nonstop flights for their travel needs”.
In June 2023, JetBlue announced that it would concede all of Spirit Airlines assets at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), namely slots and gates, to Frontier Airlines, another low-cost carrier based in the US. In total, Spirit Airlines has 22 landing and take off slots and six gates at LGA, all of which will be transferred to Frontier Airlines upon the completion of the JetBlue-Spirit Airlines merger.
In March 2023, the DOJ sued to block the merger, citing competition concerns.
“As our complaint alleges, the merger of JetBlue and Spirit would result in higher fares and fewer choices for tens of millions of travelers, with the greatest impact felt by those who rely on what are known as ultra-low-cost carriers in order to fly,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at that time.