As American Airlines and JetBlue seek dismissal of a Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit against their Northeast Alliance, Oklahoma U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford have come to the defense of the two airlines.
The airlines filed a motion this week in U.S. District Court in Boston in defense of their alliance that was announced in July 2020 and approved by the Transportation Department.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the senators said their move was meant to protect 7,000 airline jobs in Tulsa as well as new air schedules out of Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport.
“As our Nation continues to recover from the pandemic, the Northeast Alliance is creating good-paying aviation industry jobs, more jobs in construction and infrastructure development, and a host of indirect benefits for the communities and companies that rely on the travel and tourism industry,” wrote Sens. Inhofe and Lankford.
They said reconnecting Oklahoma businesses and communities to more gateway airports if significant and allows for a more affordable service.
“Oklahoma City is not the only city that is already seeing benefits from this Alliance; other smaller markets like Omaha, NE, Rapid City, SD and Columbus, OH also now have service to New York City or Boston because of this agreement,” they argued.
American and JetBlue contend the DOJ lawsuit against their alliance lacks proof of market wide anti-competitive impact. They also denied their alliance was a merger.
“The complaint is defective as a matter of law because plaintiffs have not alleged that the NEA has actually harmed competition,” the carriers said. “The NEA has been underway for nine months, yet plaintiffs do not allege that it has caused a single higher price, any reduction in quality or the slightest reduction in output.