Spirit Airlines CEO calls the airline industry a rigged game

Spirit Airlines CEO Calls Airline Industry a ‘Rigged Game’

On Monday, Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie called the airline industry a ‘rigged game.’ Christie claimed that the profits are “concentrated around two companies.” 

On a call with analysts on Monday, he said, “The smaller non-legacy carriers scrambled to restore profitability in what seems ever more like a rigged game.”  He added, “The Big 4 are the beneficiaries of this new normal, American consumers are the long-term losers.” The top four US airlines that Christie was talking about are American, Delta, United, and Southwest. 

Failed JetBlue-Spirit Merger

He also added that until recently, Spirit Airlines thought that the branding of the company was blue. He was referring to the failed merger with JetBlue earlier this year.

The $3.8 billion merger failed earlier this year  because of regulatory pushback. In January, a federal judge blocked JetBlue’s attempt to acquire Spirit Airlines, agreeing with the Justice Department that it would negatively impact the availability of low-cost air travel tickets.  

However, Christie disagreed with the decision. He explained that the planned merger with JetBlue  “would save hundreds of millions for consumers and create a real challenger to the dominant ‘Big 4’ U.S. airlines.”

Christie explained, “Looking back a couple of months, we still feel strongly, it was a serious misreading of both the evidence and the law for the Federal Court to enjoin our merger with JetBlue.”

Spirit Airlines CEO: COVID Changed The Airline Industry

The Spirit Airlines CEO said that the airline industry  has “changed dramatically” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Christie mentioned that both airlines only have an 8% market share in the industry. This shows “just how uninformed the government is about our dynamic airline business, particularly in the post-Covid era,” Christie said. 

The ‘Big 4’ US airlines are a product of mergers spanning decades. According to Cirium data, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines collectively have a 78% share of US domestic seats. 

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John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme is a Travel Analyst for The Jet Set. He writes about news and events affecting the travel industry.


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