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Op-Ed | Queens Chamber of Commerce supports JetBlue-Spirit Airlines acquisition

Apr. 26, 2023 By Thomas J. Grech, President & Chief Executive Officer, Queens Chamber of Commerce

Businesses are the economic backbone of our community, creating jobs and opportunity for residents and bringing tourism and economic investment into our area. At the Queens Chamber of Commerce we believe in supporting those businesses that have demonstrated their investment in our community. And while Queens is a place that many companies call home, not every company has shown a consistent commitment to uplifting our borough and our city the way JetBlue has. 

And that is why we were disappointed to see the U.S. Department of Justice and the Attorney General of New York are attempting to block the JetBlue-Spirit merger based on flawed logic.

JetBlue is often called “New York’s Hometown Airline,” and they live up to that name in multiple ways. With 9,000 crewmembers employed in Queens, JetBlue has a long track record as a trusted community partner. They have planted their roots in Queens with their headquarters – which they have pledged to keep in Long Island City. This investment in our borough has had a catalyzing impact that has benefitted countless small businesses. Because of that dedication, we believe JetBlue should be able to grow, so that they can continue to bring significant economic benefits to our community. 

They also support many local organizations, including: Aviation High School, a school dedicated to training future aircraft maintenance technicians, and the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens. We know that as JetBlue grows, they’ll have an even greater positive impact on community-based organizations.

The acquisition promises to be good for consumers as well. 

Since its first flight in 2000, JetBlue has been a low-fare disruptor – a change agent – in an industry desperately in need of it.  Studies have shown that when JetBlue enters a market with a nonstop route, legacy carriers lower their fares by 16% on average. For example, when JetBlue began offering service from JFK to San Antonio, fares decreased 27%. The “JetBlue Effect” as it is called has benefited New Yorkers for over 20 years, and a combined airline means JetBlue can compete with legacy carriers on more routes to more destinations, saving consumers even more. 

Today, legacy airlines control 80% of the domestic market, and JetBlue’s acquisition of Spirit would mean more competition, expanded access to a better flying experience, and lower fares for travelers. For Queens and New York, there is no downside to more travel options and a stronger employer in our area. If the U.S. Department of Justice and New York are truly concerned with consolidation in the airline industry, they would recognize that a stronger JetBlue can better compete with the dominant airlines and create significant benefits for consumers.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce has advocated on behalf of businesses that make our community strong since 1911. JetBlue is one of those companies. The benefits of the JetBlue-Spirit merger will bring long term economic and community benefits to Queens, increase competition in a highly concentrated airline market, and benefit New Yorkers. As review of the merger moves forward, the U.S. Department of Justice and New York should change course and allow JetBlue to bring lower fares and better service to all New Yorkers and those who wish to visit the city we call home.

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