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Trial to stop partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue begins Tuesday

The Department of Justice heads to court on Tuesday as it attempts to stop the partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/54c8b2d6675ed7f30f77071544bd5656/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The Department of Justice heads to court on Tuesday as it attempts to stop the partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The Justice Department heads to court on Tuesday for a federal antitrust trial as it attempts to break up a partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

The partnership between the two airlines, known as the Northeast Alliance, would lessen competition in an already concentrated industry and drive up fares, the Justice Department has argued. Last September the Justice Department, six states and the District of Columbia sued to block the partnership.

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The two airlines have argued that the agreement allows them to more effectively compete against the two largest players, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Brian Quinn, a Boston College Law School professor who specializes in mergers and corporate law, told the Washington Post that if the Northeast Alliance survives, it could lead to more partnerships on other domestic routes.

"It could signal that you're opening the door, and there's no reason for people not to walk through it," he said.

The Justice Department has argued that the agreement is akin to a merger, because the two companies would be coordinating schedules, selling seats on each other's flights and sharing revenue.

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The agreement comes as consumers have increasingly had fewer options when choosing to fly. In 2000, the top four airlines had 55% of the domestic air travel market. However, that number has ballooned to 81% of the market.

JetBlue has also been proposing a deal that would allow it to purchase Spirit Airlines.

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