The Justice Department filed an antitrust suit on Tuesday against American Airlines and JetBlue, saying a growing alliance between the two carriers had created a “de facto merger” in the New York and Boston markets, reducing competition and hurting consumers.
The suit said the arrangement between the airlines reduced the incentive for them to compete in the Northeast and elsewhere and would “cause hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to air passengers across the country through higher fares and reduced choice.”
The Justice Department said attorneys general in six states and the District of Columbia were joining in the action.
“This sweeping partnership is unprecedented among domestic airlines and amounts to a de facto merger,” the department said.
The airlines rejected the accusations. American said the alliance was “already providing more choices and better service for customers.” JetBlue said that through the partnership, the two airlines “create a true third competitor to Delta and United” in the New York market.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.