What the JetBlue and Spirit Airlines merger could mean for budget travel

If it clears regulatory hurdles, JetBlue will officially own Spirit Airlines and buy its low-cost budget rival for $3.8 billion. Now that a merger between the two is on the horizon, air travel could change again for consumers using both companies.

If the merger is successful, two very different airlines will merge to become the fifth largest in the United States, behind American, Delta, United and Southwest. The two are expected to continue to operate separately until after the deal is finalized, but it’s unclear exactly what that will mean. While JetBlue has an alliance with American in the Northeast that allows each to sell seats on each other’s planes, doing so would allow them to take over the actual planes and pilots — allowing JetBlue to expand, CNBC reports.

Getting bigger could help JetBlue with reliability, something that has plagued several airlines since travel resumed in the wake of the pandemic and airlines faced staff shortages. This leads to flight cancellations and delays on busy travel dates.

Although airlines Spirit and Frontier are known to be less reliable due to their extremely cheap barebones airfares and base fares, they actually didn’t rank among the worst American for sixth in a 2021 Wall Street Journal ranking of airline performance, while Spirit took 8th place. JetBlue ranked 9th in the poll.

While JetBlue performs better overall, the study found that the airline had the highest rate of extreme delays and incidents that left passengers waiting on the tarmac for at least two hours. They also had the second least on-time arrivals and the second most customer complaints.

In addition to potentially improving their reliability by expanding their fleet with the buyout, JetBlue may also change things up for consumers by also eliminating a cheaper competitor. And while they could potentially have a larger fleet of planes and routes with the acquisition, the amenities JetBlue is known for — like extra legroom, seatback TVs with live programming, and better snacking options — will compel them to keep growing to demand as spirit. This could be a problem for those who in the past have only chosen an airline like Spirit to save money and were willing to sacrifice luxury.

For example, a consumer wishing to fly from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Orlando, Florida on Monday, August 15 would see fare options ranging from $139 to $378 for a ticket. Those looking for similar flights offered by Spirit would see airfares ranging from $118 to $269.

“Liquor may not be an elegant experience, but it’s cheap,” said William Kovacic, a professor at the George Washington School of Law and former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. “If they disappear as an independent company… will that remove a source of downward pressure on the price?”

Passengers pass through a terminal at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago

Photo: Reuters/Jim Young

https://www.ibtimes.com.au/what-jetblue-spirit-airlines-merger-could-mean-budget-travel-1836104?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution What the JetBlue and Spirit Airlines merger could mean for budget travel

Fry Electronics Team

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