President Biden on Tuesday hailed the decision by a federal judge to block the merger of Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways, calling it a win for consumers.
“Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism – it’s exploitation,” Biden said in a statement. “Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers everywhere who want lower prices and more choices. My Administration will continue to fight to protect consumers and enforce our antitrust laws.”
JetBlue proposed buying Spirit for $3.8 billion, an acquisition that would have made it the fifth-largest airline. U.S. District Judge William Young, in a court filing earlier Tuesday, said the acquisition would “substantially lessen competition” in violation of the Clayton Act, which “was designed to prevent anticompetitive harms for consumers.”
Biden has made promoting competition a major platform for his economic plan to bring down inflation and often says that while he is a capitalist, capitalism without competition is exploitation.
The decision Tuesday was a major win for the Justice Department, which sued to block the merger from proceeding. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the legal action in March 2023 and said that if the merger was allowed to proceed, it would limit choices and increase ticket prices.
Young also argued that the merger would eliminate the biggest low-cost airline in the U.S., Spirit, and drive up prices for consumers as a result.