American Airlines CEO Robert Isom made his first appearance at the federal courthouse in Boston on Monday, testifying that American’s Northeast Alliance with JetBlue Airways was born largely out of competition with Delta.
Isom said the partnership with JetBlue would bring both airlines more routes and a bigger presence in the large New York market to stay on par with Delta. Two senior executives at Delta Air Lines urged a Boston federal judge to block a bid by American Airlines Group Inc to force them to testify in September.
Delta, based in Atlanta, “runs a nice airline,” Isom testified according to the Associated Press and has more takeoff and landing slots at the three major New York City airports than American. That led to the Northeast Alliance with JetBlue, which is based in New York and has a strong presence there and in Boston.
The Department of Justice and six states filed suit against American, alleging the Northeast Alliance with JetBlue amounts to a merger and violates antitrust law by creating a monopoly. With the defense testifying first since the trial began on Tuesday, September 27, witnesses so far have defended the Alliance.
The case is seen as a significant test of the Biden administration’s opposition to mergers — even though the American-JetBlue partnership is not a full merger.
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