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US Senators Raise Concerns Over Spirit-Frontier Merger

 |  March 10, 2022

A group of progressive lawmakers wants federal officials to scrutinize the proposed merger of Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines over concerns that the combination could prove anti-competitive and hurt customers and workers, reported The New York Times.

The lawmakers — including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — warn that the merger could drive up ticket prices, worsen customer service and reduce worker leverage.

Spirit Airlines, the Florida-based low-cost airline offering discounted flights within the United States, has seen its finances pressured by high volatility in the air travel market as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic and its effects on tourism and business travel. Frontier has likewise been under pressure, having been forced to exit major airports including Los Angeles, Washington Dulles, and Newark, NJ.

The group of legislators laid out those misgivings in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, the top antitrust official in the Justice Department, on Wednesday.

“For decades, the airline industry has been plagued by increasing consolidation, producing massive airline giants while leaving consumers and workers behind,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Because the proposed Spirit-Frontier merger threatens to exacerbate these trends — including by potentially increasing prices during a period of high inflationary pressure — we urge the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation to closely review this megamerger.”

If federal officials find that the deal violates antitrust law or fails to serve the public interest, they should oppose the merger, the lawmakers said. The letter was also signed by Senator Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico and Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Katie Porter of California, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Mondaire Jones of New York.

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