Spirit Airlines CEO calls airline industry a ‘rigged game’, and US consumers are ‘losers in the long run’

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

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

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

Until recently, the carrier thought “the branding for the new facility might be blue,” Christie explained.

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

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.

Ted Christie, CEO of Spirit Airlines, described American consumers as “long-term losers.” Getty Images

“Looking back a few months, we still feel strongly that it was a serious misreading of both the evidence and the law for a federal court to order our merger with JetBlue,” Christie told analysts.

“The fact that the Department of Justice filed a case to block a merger between two carriers with a combined market share of less than 8% shows how ignorant the government is about our dynamic aviation business, especially in the post-coronavirus era,” he said. “

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