When antitrust enforcement helps Big Business

Two smaller airlines, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways, want to merge in order to better compete with the four large airlines. If Spirit and JetBlue merged, they would be the fifth-biggest airline, behind American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.

The federal government is blocking the merger, and there are rumblings that the whole thing might fall apart this weekend, sparing the big four airlines from increased competition.

Size conveys massive advantages in the commercial air travel industry. Delta is big enough that, during the 2010s, it was able to buy its own fuel refinery. Bigger companies have more leverage vis-a-vis suppliers and vendors. Their networks (including their frequent flier programs) give them extra inroads to customers. They also spend less per customer
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