By Brent Kendall and, Alison Sider
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Tuesday filed an antitrust lawsuit challenging American Airlines Group Inc.’s partnership with JetBlue Airways Corp., alleging the recently forged alliance threatens competition and would promote higher fares.
The department, joined by six states and the District of Columbia, filed the lawsuit in a Massachusetts federal court.
American /zigman2/quotes/209207041/composite AAL +1.90% and JetBlue /zigman2/quotes/207639051/composite JBLU -0.27% announced their alliance in July 2020 , saying boosting their offerings in the Northeast by marketing one another’s flights on certain routes would allow them to become more formidable competitors at the three New York area airports and in Boston.
The carriers began implementing the partnership this year after agreeing to shed some takeoff and landing slots at airports in New York and Washington, to gain approval from the Transportation Department in the waning days of the Trump administration. American and JetBlue also agreed to certain restrictions on how they operate. The two airlines are allowed to coordinate schedules only within the scope of the partnership, and aren’t allowed to discuss fares or pricing strategies.
The Justice Department, however, for months had expressed concerns that those conditions may not fully address threats to competition , people familiar with the matter said, including what it sees as the potential for American and JetBlue to retreat from competing vigorously with one another on routes where the two have been direct rivals.
An expanded version of this story appears on WSJ.com.
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