Senator Chuck Schumer good-naturedly quips that the most dangerous place in Washington D.C. is between himself and a TV camera.
However it looks like Schumer has a West Coast competitor in California Attorney General Rob Bonta who has rushed to join the Justice Department’s lawsuit against American Airlines and JetBlue over its Northeast alliance which covers Boston and New York, because reasons.
The suit challenges what they call an anticompetitive joint venture known as the Northeast Alliance, that will affect high-traffic air markets such as San Diego.
…In California alone, this “anticompetitive” venture is expected to impact at least nine airports with flights to and from the East Coast, costing California consumers hundreds of millions of dollars, Bonta said.
Let’s look at this. How, exactly, will the arrangement covering flights to New York and Boston affect… San Diego? American does not operate San Diego to New York or Boston. So… it won’t.
And by the way American doesn’t fly from Sacramento or San Jose to Boston or New York JFK currently, either.
So let’s help California’s Bonta out and look at where American and JetBlue both fly from the West Coast to the East and see what partnering does to competition. (Hint: these are some of the most competitive markets.)
- This month American Airlines is the second largest carrier at LAX, behind Delta in number of flights, seats, and seat miles. They represent 19% of Los Angeles departures, according to schedule data from Cirium Diio Mi.
- JetBlue is the seventh largest carrier at LAX based on seats, according to Diio Mi schedule data for September (6th largest based on flights and seat miles).
- To be sure, both American and JetBlue operate from Los Angeles to both Boston and New York JFK. However United and Delta offer six peak daily LAX-Boston departures, and ten peak daily departures to New York JFK.
American does not fly Los Angeles – Newark, and United offers eight peak daily LAX-Newark flights. Los Angeles – Boston and New York are highly competitive markets, and connecting combinations are nearly unlimited.
- Diio Mi shows that in San Francisco, American is the fourth-largest airline by seats and JetBlue the sixth largest, representing a combined 13% of the market. But they aren’t combining in San Francisco – or any West Coast cities – just on New York and Boston routes.
United flies 10 times a day San Francisco – New York (8 Newark, 2 JFK) and Delta 5 times a day (JFK, 4 times on Saturdays). This dwarves the combined 10 times that American and JetBlue fly. Indeed American operates San Francisco – New York just 3 times daily.
Los Angeles – Boston is competitive, but American and JetBlue combined do increase ‘concentration’ on the rote based on current flights. But remember that there aren’t slot controls in Boston, other airlines can add service. If prices were to rise for consumers on this non-stop rote, that’s just a reason for other carriers to enter the market.