In a 94-page opinion issued after a lengthy bench trial, a Massachusetts District Judge has found the “Northeast Alliance” between American Airlines and JetBlue, by which the two airlines coordinated their flights out of New York and Boston, to violate the Sherman Act.
An appeal is sure to follow. But the main takeaway from the opinion:
Though the defendants claim their bigger-is-better collaboration will benefit the flying public, they produced minimal objectively credible proof to support that claim. Whatever the benefits to American and JetBlue of becoming more powerful—in the northeast generally or in their shared rivalry with Delta—such benefits arise from a naked agreement not to compete with one another. Such a pact is just the sort of “unreasonable restraint on trade” the Sherman Act was designed to prevent.