“This is the anti-merger, merger”: AFA-CWA Statement on DOJ Suit in JetBlue-Spirit Merger

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 7, 2023) — Following the Department of Justice’s suit to block the JetBlue-Spirit merger, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA-CWA) President Sara Nelson released the following statement:

“Our union supports this merger because it is the opposite of all of the ‘host of horribles’ we experienced with consolidation in the past decade. The die was cast for concentrated corporate power when mergers were approved in the last decade to create four mega airlines that now control 81% of the market. The strong stance this administration has taken on competition and good union jobs set a foundation for a merger proposal with a JetBlue-Spirit combination that attempts to correct past antitrust failures, and instead drives competition to the highest standards for workers and consumers. 

“Our union does not offer our support lightly. We have experience with eight mergers in the past decade and this is the first merger that we enthusiastically support for these reasons: 

No Two-Tiered Employment. This merger will insource jobs currently contracted out at Spirit to make all of these workers direct employees of JetBlue with higher pay and benefits. The airline will not use any contract flying with regional jets, a practice that the major airlines utilize to keep labor costs on average 45% less than mainline airlines for nearly half of the domestic flights in their network. This immediately increases access to thousands of improved aviation jobs and puts pressure on the mega airlines to compete to the highest standards for workers. 

More, Better Jobs. JetBlue has committed to no furloughs, no displacements, and an expedited joint collective bargaining process that will ensure Flight Attendants gain the benefits of the merger as soon as possible. Spirit management recently reached agreement with our union to close out open contract negotiations. The short term contract provides immediate double-digit raises from 10-27%, scheduled additional raises, scheduling improvements and other benefits. This sets up the opportunity for significant further improvements for the combined Flight Attendant group, but only if the concerns of DOJ are resolved and this merger moves forward.

Safety and Comfort. All Spirit airplanes will be reconfigured from 28” seat pitch, which is the worst in the industry, to 32” seat pitch which is the best minimum standard in the industry. This means more comfort for passengers and a far better ratio of gate agents and Flight Attendant to passengers. This improves safety, comfort, and contributes to a better flying environment that has been plagued with disruptive and violent episodes on our planes and gate areas. JetBlue will use larger airplanes and fly each plane more to maintain or even add capacity to the industry. This keeps fares low, while making flying better for everyone. Bigger seats, free wifi, unlimited snacks, and the option to forgo all of that for even lower fares if passengers so choose. 

This is the anti-merger, merger. Blocking this merger in an attempt to undo the consolidation in the airline industry is backward thinking. It will do nothing to change today's industry dynamics, but it will ensure things stay the same. There’s not a person in the country who would say that’s okay. Everything the public hates about flying today would be better on the merged airline.

“We call on the DOJ to engage in a process to resolve its specific concerns and ensure we don’t have to wait a day longer before experiencing the benefits this combination will create for workers and consumers across the industry.”

AFA-CWA represents 50,000 Flight Attendants at 19 airlines, including 5,600 Flight Attendants at Spirit Airlines.


The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for over 75 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.


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