The Biden administration’s antitrust enforcement has been characterized by high-profile losses. Unlike some other recent attempts, JetBlue’s merger with Spirit Airlines did succeed. Unfortunately, despite the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) intentions, it has led to fewer choices for consumers instead of more.

The DOJ’s challenge of the merger was upheld in court. The judge’s ruling cited that the merger would result in the loss of an airline that serves the low-cost airline market. However, in his ruling the judge noted that had the merger gone through it would have increased competition for the larger airlines.

Despite the DOJ’s arguments, the merger would not have left low-cost airline travelers with fewer options, as JetBlue is not only also a low-cost carrier, it is also one of the safest. While it would have meant one fewer airline choice, it would likely have kept the airlines’ routes running.

JetBlue has cut back on both the number of flights they offer and destinations they serve. Meanwhile Spirit furloughed 260 pilots and delayed airplane deliveries after the merger was blocked. Instead of protecting consumers, the ruling has resulted in fewer choices for American travelers looking for low-cost options.

The DOJ’s prevention of JetBlue’s merger with Spirit Airlines highlights the tradeoffs inherent in the process. While attempting to provide consumers with more airlines to choose from, the DOJ has reduced the actual choices travelers in many locations have.

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Justin Leventhal is a senior policy analyst for the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on Twitter (X) @ConsumerPal.