NC’s Stein, 3 other states join bid to block airline deal 

FILE – A JetBlue Airways Airbus A320, left, passes a Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 as it taxis on the runway, July 7, 2022, at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. On Friday, March 31, 2023, California and three other states joined a federal lawsuit aimed at blocking JetBlue’s $3.8 billion purchase of Spirit Airlines, which is scheduled for trial this fall. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

North Carolina Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein along with attorneys general from California, Maryland and New Jersey signed on to a lawsuit attempting to block JetBlue’s $3.8 billion purchase of competitor Spirit Airlines. 

The complaint was filed March 31 in federal district court in Massachusetts. 

The original lawsuit was brought earlier in March by the U.S. Justice Department, Massachusetts, New York and the District of Columbia against JetBlue Airways and Spirit. Attorney General Merrick Garland led a press conference to announce the lawsuit, a signal of the importance that the Biden administration attaches to the case as part of its campaign against consolidation in many industries.  

The Biden administration argues that the deal would reduce competition and drive up prices for airline consumers by eliminating Spirit, which is known for low fares. JetBlue argues that the deal will help consumers by making the New York-based airline a stronger competitor against American, Delta, United and Southwest. 

“People rely on budget airlines to afford to travel,” said Stein in a statement. “This merger could decrease competition in air travel, leading to fewer flight options and increased costs for travelers. A merger might benefit the airlines, but it could harm their customers. That’s why I’m asking the court to block this deal.” 

A federal judge scheduled the trial to begin Oct. 16 in Boston. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.