American Airlines and JetBlue Airways have won a little more time to either appeal or unwind their partnership in the northeastern U.S. after it was found in violation of antitrust law last month.
U.S. District Court Judge Leo Sorokin said Monday that he would take both the Justice Department and airlines’ respective requests on the timeline to end the alliance into account in a yet-to-be-issued final judgement. He described the Justice Department’s request that the original 30 day period — or until June 20 — be honored as “too short,” and the airlines’ request for up to 120 days to end their codeshare agreement as “too long.”
American and JetBlue must end their alliance in the northeast, which covers the Boston and New York markets, 21 days after the final judgement, Sorokin ordered.
The airlines argued on June 9 that, without a delay, unwinding the alliance could be “disruptive to consumers.” One reason they highlighted were JetBlue’s technology systems that they claim are incapable of honoring all aspects of previously-booked tickets if the agreement ended this month. More time would also provide “sufficient time to resolve any forthcoming motions to stay the judgment pending appeal.”
The U.S. Justice Department disagreed. “The court found that the NEA [northeast alliance] considered as a whole, not merely specific aspects of it, was anticompetitive and illegal; allowing portions of the NEA to remain in place indefinitely would provide incomplete relief,” the regulator said in its own filing.
Updated with details from Sorokin’s ruling.