A U.S. federal judge on Thursday allowed the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust suit against American Airlines and JetBlue Airways to proceed, according to Reuters, with a trial date of Sept. 26.

The Justice Department last year filed suit against the carriers, calling their “Northeast Alliance” partnership anticompetitive and a “de facto merger.

DOJ filed the lawsuit in the District of Massachusetts, with several state attorneys general signing on to it, and Judge Leo Sorokin approved the suit Thursday. American and JetBlue had asked the court to dismiss the suit.

First announced in July 2020, the carriers’ alliance includes codesharing on domestic and international flights primarily in the Northeast United States. The U.S. Department of Transportation in January 2021 approved the alliance with some concessions, including airport slot divestitures. The Justice Department, however, filed suit in September, saying the alliance would lead to less competition and higher fares.

The carriers have vowed to fight to maintain the alliance. JetBlue separately is attempting to acquire Spirit Airlines; both Spirit and rival suitor Frontier Airlines have cited the Justice Department’s lawsuit over the Northeast Alliance as evidence that a JetBlue-Spirit tie-up wouldn’t pass antitrust muster.

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