A federal judge just struck down what would have been a long-term, monumental change to the commercial airline industry.
According to The Epoch Times, a judge ordered a partnership formed in 2021 under President Donald Trump between American Airlines and JetBlue to be dissolved, citing potential harm to consumers.
The partnership was called the "Northeastern Alliance," and Trump's Department of Transportation approved it, ultimately taking effect in early 2021.
However, upon entering office President Joe Biden's Justice Department sued to block the merger from happening.
The two airlines merged their flight operations in New York City and Boston, which caused immediate controversy.
U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin decided the case after a lengthy trial that began in September 2022. Sorokin ruled that the merger disrupted the marketplace, and ultimately led to less competitive choices for consumers.
He wrote in his decision that the defendants, the two airlines, — "is a formidable and influential player in the air travel market" in the United States, adding and that their merger in the Northeast "immediately and substantially upsets the competitive balance in a highly concentrated industry."
Sorokin added: "These two powerful carriers act as one entity in the northeast, allocating markets between them and replacing full-throated competition with broad cooperation."
“Though the defendants claim their bigger-is-better collaboration will benefit the flying public, they produced minimal objectively credible proof to support that claim,”
A federal judge ruled American Airlines and Jet Blue must abandon their partnership in the Northeast because it could reduce airline competition. pic.twitter.com/oD9rxWXFJN
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 20, 2023
The district judge ordered that the two companies must completely dissolve their relationship within 30 days.
Not surprisingly, both sides of the case had their opinions on the judge's final ruling, with the defendants arguing that the prosecution's analysis of the partnership was "incorrect."
"We believe the decision is wrong and are considering next steps,” said American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller. "The court’s legal analysis is plainly incorrect and unprecedented for a joint venture like the Northeast Alliance. There was no evidence in the record of any consumer harm from the partnership."
"Today’s decision is a win for Americans who rely on competition between airlines to travel affordably," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement regarding the case's outcome.
Only time will tell if the two airlines can take meaningful legal actions to reverse the decision.