JetBlue and Spirit Airlines have claimed that a lawsuit seeking to prevent their merger with Spirit Airlines, brought forward by 25 plaintiffs, has no factual basis and that they are simply seeking money in court.
In a filing with the United States (US) District Court of Massachusetts, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines’ lawyers said that a lawsuit, brought forward by 25 plaintiffs, one of whom has deceased since they filed it in November 2022, as highlighted by the two airlines, has no constitutional standing.
JetBlue and Spirit Airlines’ filing was first reported by Reuters.
The two carriers said that the plaintiffs failed to “establish they have suffered an injury-in-fact that is concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent”. Furthermore, since they “seek an injunction of an event that has yet to occur, Plaintiffs have not suffered any injury”.
The argument that they will be “injured” by the two airlines’ merger relies on “vague and speculative harms based on two general facts,” namely that they travel and are travel agents. However, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines said that facts show that none of the 25 plaintiffs “had concrete, imminent plans to fly Spirit,” including the now-deceased plaintiff.
“And, contrary to their own allegations, the undisputed facts show that twenty-three Plaintiffs have not flown Spirit, even once, on any route in the four years prior to filing the Complaint on November 3, 2022”.
It’s argued that, even if they claim that they might fly with Spirit Airlines in the future, “wishful thinking does not establish Article III standing”. In addition, the two airlines’ legal representatives pointed out that the plaintiffs “have no Spirit routes selected, no precise travel dates, and/or no firm sense of whether they would even fly Spirit or another airline”.
“Moreover, monetary damages would address Plaintiffs’ grievances. Plaintiffs have a decades-long history of filing suits to enjoin mergers in the airline industry and others,” the two carrier’s lawyers noted. “Not once have they prevailed in enjoining an airline merger, but they have accepted monetary settlements.”
While the plaintiffs said that some of them were travel agents, they failed to produce their businesses’ financial statuses, meaning that they “cannot show what their businesses look like today, much less infer what impact the merger might have on their businesses in the future”.
“Simply put: under similar circumstances, many of the same Plaintiffs believed money was sufficient to address their harm. If it was true then, it is true now,” the lawyers concluded, adding only that their “requested injunctive remedy is woefully inappropriate, and summary judgment must issue”.
As such, they argued, “Defendants’ motion for summary judgment should be granted”.
JetBlue and Spirit Airlines agreed to a merger in July 2022, with the latter’s shareholders approving it in late July 2022. However, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) opposed the merger, with the two airlines and the DOJ going to court in October 2023.