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US judge says American-JetBlue must end alliance

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By Diane Bartz and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. judge ruled on Friday that American Airlines Group must end its alliance with JetBlue Airways Corp, agreeing with the U.S. Justice Department that it means higher prices for consumers.

The announcement is a win for the Biden administration that has taken a hard line on consolidation and tie-ups in the aviation industry.

The airlines did not immediately comment. JetBlue shares fell 1.8%, while American closed down 1.5%.

U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin said the agreement “entangles JetBlue with American in a way that diminishes its status as an independent low-cost player in the market.” The judge gave the airlines 30 days to end the alliance.

The department sued in 2021 asking Sorokin to stop the “Northeast Alliance” partnership, announced in July 2020 and approved by the U.S. Transportation Department shortly before the end of the Trump administration. It took aim at American Airlines, saying the alliance would cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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