Four states join US bid to stop JetBlue-Spirit merger

JetBlue and Spirit announced the intention to combine last year in a $3.8 billion deal that would create the fifth-largest airline

Four states have joined the U.S. Justice Department lawsuit aimed at preventing JetBlue Airways from buying rival discount carrier Spirit Airlines for $3.8 billion.

California, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina signed the lawsuit Friday, which was filed in early March.

They join Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and the District of Columbia in the litigation.

"We look forward to litigating this important case alongside our state law enforcement partners to stop JetBlue from eliminating its rival, Spirit," said DOJ Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Doha Mekki said in a statement.

DOJ SUES TO BLOCK $3.8B JETBLUE-SPIRIT AIRLINES MERGER

Attorney General Merrick Garland

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland  (REUTERS/Ken Cedeno / Reuters Photos)

The U.S. Justice Department filed the lawsuit on March 7, seeking to stop the transaction.

The DOJ says the merger would lead to higher fares, fewer seats and harming consumers.

"It’s unfortunate that these states have decided to join the DOJ’s effort to protect the dominant position of the four largest airlines in the U.S. The facts show that preserving the status quo is the most anti-competitive step that the federal government and these states can take,' said a JetBlue in a statement to FOX Business. "We look forward to arguing the merits of this combination in court, and are confident the court will find that consumers will benefit from the increased competitive effect that JetBlue uniquely brings to the routes we fly".

 FOX Business has reached out to Spirit Airlines for comment.

Jetblue joined bidding war in April

A JetBlue airliner lands past a Spirit Airlines jet on taxi way at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. (Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)

JETBLUE, SPIRIT INSIST MERGER WON'T LEAD TO HIGHER AIRLINE FARES, AS DOJ CIRCLES

JetBlue and Spirit agreed to combine last year in a $3.8 billion deal that aims to create the fifth-largest airline in the U.S. 

The merged airlines would have an estimated 9% of market share.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes defended the deal in a Reuters interview this month, saying it would save consumers money and boost available seats.

JetBlue planes in Boston, Massachusetts

JetBlue planes are seen at Boston Logan International Airport. (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

SPIRIT AIRLINES BRINGING IN 4,000 PILOTS, FLIGHT ATTENDANTS, OTHER TEAM MEMBERS THIS YEAR

JetBlue has said that buying Spirit is its best chance of growing large enough to credibly challenge the four largest airlines that combined have 80% of the market.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SAVE SPIRIT AIRLINES INC. 3.46 -0.03 -0.86%
JBLU JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP. 5.45 -0.07 -1.27%

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President Biden has been pushing back against further consolidation in industries dominated by a few powerful companies.

Reuters contributed to this report.