JetBlue and Spirit's Appeal Over Merger Block to be Heard by US Court in June

JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines are seeking to overturn a judge's ruling that blocked their $3.8 billion merger. A U.S. appeals court has agreed to hear arguments in June, which is slower than what the airlines had requested. The airlines had asked for a speedy timeline to hear arguments in May and rule before a July 24 deadline.


However, the U.S. Department of Justice, which sued to block the deal, opposed the airlines' proposed schedule and pushed for June arguments. They argued that closing dates are often renegotiated by merging companies to give courts more time to hear antitrust challenges. 

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The airlines argued that the merger was dependent on $3.5 billion of financing JetBlue obtained that would expire on July 24 unless its lenders agreed to an extension. The companies' initial brief is due on Feb. 26, with the Justice Department response set for April 11, and the case would be fully briefed by April 25. 


The 1st Circuit's order said that they contemplated argument during the court's June sitting and those extensions would be strongly disfavored. Neither the companies nor the Justice Department have responded to requests for comment. The appeal follows an antitrust lawsuit by the Justice Department and the Democratic state attorneys general from six states and the District of Columbia, who argued that the merger would lead to fewer flights and higher prices for millions of Americans. U.S. District Judge William Young sided with the Justice Department on Jan. 16, finding that the deal would harm consumers by eliminating Spirit's low fares and its ability to put pressure on other higher-priced airlines.

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