US Judge Blocks JetBlue's Acquisition of Spirit Airlines

In a significant ruling on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, a federal judge blocked JetBlue Airways' planned $3.8 billion acquisition of ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines. The judge sided with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing that the merger would substantially lessen competition and limit the availability of low-priced tickets.


The Ruling

The ruling was a victory for the Biden administration, which has been making efforts to preserve competition among the lowest-cost airlines to ensure that air travel remains affordable. The judge concluded that passengers who rely on Spirit’s cheaper fares “would likely be harmed” by the acquisition. The decision has implications for other planned deals in the airline sector.

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Market Impact

Following the ruling, shares in Spirit Airlines plunged by 47%, while JetBlue shares gained 5%⁵. The ruling also raises questions over other planned deals in the airline sector.

Future Steps

JetBlue and Spirit said in a joint statement that they disagreed with the ruling and were considering their next steps. The companies could still appeal the ruling.



The decision to block the merger is a significant development in the airline industry. It underscores the government's commitment to preserving competition and ensuring affordable air travel for consumers. The ruling could have far-reaching implications for future mergers and acquisitions within the industry.

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