American Airlines appeals the court decision to break up Northeast Alliance

American Airlines has asked a federal appeals court to overturn the district court decision in May that broke up its Northeast Alliance with JetBlue in Boston and the New York area.ย 

A victory on appeal would not lead to the restoration of the alliance, which JetBlue chose to dissolve after the court decision to focus on its effort to acquire Spirit Airlines. But a victory could preserve the right of American and other airlines to enter into future partnerships similar in nature to the Northeast Alliance.ย 

“If left unchecked, the district court’s decision will discourage fruitful and lawful collaboration that benefits consumers through increased output, decreased prices and improved product quality,” American contended in a brief filed Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston.

JetBlue had previously said it wouldn’t appeal the May decision.ย 

Under the Northeast Alliance, American and JetBlue jointly scheduled flights and split revenue on most of their operations out of Boston Logan, Newark, New York LaGuardia and New York JFK airports. But unlike international airline joint ventures, such as the one American has with British Airways, the Northeast Alliance had not been granted antitrust immunity by regulators at the Justice Department.ย 

The DOJ, joined by the District of Columbia and six states, ultimately sued to break up the alliance.ย 

In siding with the plaintiffs in May, Judge Leo Sorokin ruled that the alliance harmed competition by turning the two competitors into partners in New York and Boston.ย 

In its appeal, American contends that Sorokin ignored benefits the alliance brought to consumers, such as increasing competition with market leaders Delta and United.ย 

The decision, the appeal says, “wrongly terminated a beneficial commercial arrangement that added more flights, more seats, and more options for consumers without raising prices.”

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