It doesn't appear that the merger between JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines is going to come off. Not when there are two government agencies working against it.
And both seem hell-bent on stopping it.
Less than a month after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust lawsuit against the merger, the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Friday declined a request for an exemption so that the two could operate under common ownership, according to Reuters.
DOT cited the DOJ case as precedent and said they could do nothing until that case is resolved.
JetBlue and Spirit agreed on a $3.8 billion merger last July but it has been an uphill battle ever since.
According to Reuters and court documents, the two airlines then filed an exemption application asking the DOT to permit them to operate under common ownership prior to a requested transfer application that seeks approval to combine and operate international routes under one certificate.
The DOT response was swift and decisive. Nope.
Officials cited the "DOJ's conclusion that the proposed merger would have anti-competitive effects, and the pendency of the federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the transaction."
JetBlue quickly shot back with a statement from CEO Robin Hayes that said "We believe (the DOT) will recognize the pro-competitive merits of this combination, which will create a national low-fare challenger to the dominant Big Four airlines...The (DOT) does not change that belief or our confidence that we will close the transaction, within our expected timeframe, following completion of the court case."
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