JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines have confirmed they will appeal the court decision blocking their proposed merger following opposition from the US Department of Justice (DoJ). 

The airlines had previously said they would review their options following the ruling by District Court Judge William Young, but have now filed a notice of appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, citing requirements of their merger agreement. 

Young’s ruling last week sided with the DoJ, saying that JetBlue had failed to prove the move was not anti-competitive and that the agreement went against the core principle of antitrust laws to protect US markets from home. 

The ruling had been welcomed by the DoJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland who described it as a “victory for tens of millions of travellers” by avoiding potential higher fares while Doha Mekki of the DoJ’s antitrust division said the ruling reaffirmed “that the antitrust laws vindicate the economic liberty of the American people.” 

Though appearing to be part of the merger agreement by the two airlines, JetBlue’s decision to appeal may be surprising to some in the industry after the stock market reacted positively towards the company after the ruling against the acquisition, with the airline’s stock rising by 5% on the day of Young’s decision. 

However, the appeal will be welcomed by Spirit, which had seen its stock tumble by 60% after the decision and had reportedly been lobbying JetBlue to appeal by citing the clause in the merger agreement requiring both parties to exhaust all legal options to finalise the deal according to Reuters.

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