Spirit Airlines CEO says industry is like a 'rigged game,' US consumers are 'long-term losers'

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Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie spoke candidly about the airline industry, likening it to a rigged game and saying U.S. consumers are “the long-term losers.”  

“Today, nearly all the profits of the entire U.S. airline industry are concentrated in just two companies, while the smaller non-legacy carriers scrambled to restore profitability in what seems ever more like a rigged game,” Christie said in an earnings call with analysts.

He added that “The Big Four are the beneficiaries of this new normal, American consumers are the long-term losers.” 

JUDGE BLOCKS $3.8B JETBLUE-SPIRIT MERGER, CITES ‘ANTICOMPETITIVE HARM’

Christie explained that until recently, the carrier thought “the branding of the new facility might be blue.” 

He was referring to the failed $3.8 billion merger with JetBlue Airways earlier this year. Christie had argued that the deal to combine the carriers, originally announced in 2022, “would save hundreds of millions for consumers and create a real challenger to the dominant ‘Big 4’ U.S. airlines,” but it faced significant regulatory pushback.  

JETBLUE, SPIRIT AGREE TO TERMINATE MERGER OVER REGULATORY ISSUES

In January, a federal judge blocked JetBlue’s acquisition of Spirit after agreeing with the Justice Department that the deal would hurt the availability of low-cost air travel tickets. 

JetBlue Spirit Airliners

“Looking back a couple of months, we still feel strongly, it was a serious misreading of both the evidence and the law for the Federal Court to enjoin our merger with JetBlue,” Christie told analysts. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SAVE SPIRIT AIRLINES INC. 3.35 -0.36 -9.70%
JBLU JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP. 5.93 +0.13 +2.24%

He said that “the fact that the DOJ even brought a case to block a merger between two carriers with less than 8% combined market share, just shows how uninformed the government is about our dynamic airline business, particularly in the post-COVID era.”

FOX Business’ Eric Revell contributed to this report. 

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