Several Democratic members of Congress in the United States have expressed concern that the planned merger of Frontier Airlines with Spirit Airlines will restrict competition among low-cost airlines and push up costs at a time when inflation is on the rise.
Previous mergers, according to the senators, have harmed customers and employees, and if Frontier and Spirit ever abandon their budget-carrier business model, the industry “will lose a critical check on costs,” the lawmakers stated.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and five other lawmakers, called on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division to conduct a thorough review of the merger for potential violations of antitrust law and regulations.
The administration of President Joe Biden has indicated that it would review acquisitions more rigorously in order to foster competition. In September, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to halt a cooperation in which American Airlines and JetBlue Airways planned to collaborate on flights in the New York-New Jersey region. That agreement had been permitted to go through by the Trump administration.
Following an announcement last month that they will merge in a $2.9 billion merger, Frontier and Spirit will become the nation’s fifth-largest airline in terms of passenger-carrying capacity. Frontier, which is located in Denver, would own a majority stake.
Consumers, they claim, would benefit from the merger since it will result in the creation of a more formidable low-cost rival to American, Delta, United, and Southwest, which together dominate around 80 percent of the United States’ air-travel industry.
Spirit and Frontier are already two of the least popular airlines in America, according to legislators, and a merger might make the customer experience worse since customers who are mistreated would have no immediate choices among inexpensive carriers.