JetBlue flight attendants oppose buying Spirit Airlines

The union that represents JetBlue flight attendants has come out in strong opposition to JetBlue’s proposed acquisition of discount carrier Spirit Airlines. 

In a letter addressed Thursday to U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland and DOT secretary Pete Buttigieg, Transport Workers Union of America international president John Samuelsen said the merger would reduce U.S. airline competition and harm JetBlue workers. 

“We have yet to see a credible argument that a consolidated JetBlue/Spirit will enhance competition in the domestic airline industry,” Samuelsen wrote. “Workers and passengers will be harmed, just as they have been in many past airline consolidations, as the new airline follows the business practices, pricing strategies, and labor cost-cutting practices previous combined carriers have undergone.”

TWU said it represents more than 6,800 JetBlue flight attendants as well as more than 250 Spirit gate agents at the airline’s base in Fort Lauderdale. 

The union’s statement came just two days after the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, a union representing Spirit flight attendants, announced its support for the JetBlue-Spirit tie-up. AFA said that JetBlue committed to protecting a no-furlough policy for Spirit flight attendants post-merger and pledged to expedite joint contract negotiations for flight attendants during the integration process.

TWU offered a darker view of the labor practices of JetBlue management, asserting that the airline is not complying with hard-won union contracts.

“JetBlue has shown an institutional disrespect for their flight attendants and we have no faith that increasing the number of workers under their purview will stop the mistreatment,” Samuelsen wrote. 

Many analysts expect the JetBlue/Spirit merger application to face a challenge from antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice. The DOJ is currently awaiting a court decision on its challenge of JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance with American Airlines. And the Biden administration has taken a proactive stance against further corporate consolidation across the U.S. 

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