BOSTON (AP) – JetBlue and Spirit Airlines will have to wait until June for a federal court to hear an appeal of a ruling that blocked JetBlue’s $3.8 billion bid to buy a smaller rival airline. Must be.
The schedule set Friday by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston is a month later than the airlines had hoped. The companies asked for an expedited hearing in May to allow the court to rule on the merger agreement before the July 24 deadline for closing.
The appeals court ordered the airline to file a preliminary hearing brief on February 26, and the U.S. Department of Justice was expected to respond by April 11.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit last year seeking to block the merger, saying it would reduce competition and raise fares, especially for travelers who rely on the low-fare Spirit.
A federal district judge in Boston sided with the government in January and blocked the deal, saying it violated antitrust laws.
New York-based JetBlue had argued that the merger would make it more competitive with major airlines. But Miramar, Fla.-based Spirit’s ongoing losses and other problems make the price look less appealing. JetBlue warned last week that it could terminate the contract.