Colorado AG Expresses Concerns About Frontier and Spirit Merger Plans

DENVER — On Tuesday, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate the proposed merger between Denver-based Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, as well as customer service policies and practices. Frontier customers.

In early February, the parent company of Frontier Airlines announced its intention to buy Spirit Airlines in a $2.9 billion cash and stock deal.

In a letter sent to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Weiser wrote: “The proposed merger of two airlines with such poor consumer service records creates a real and pressing risk, if such a merger is approved, that these suspicious practices worsen Without competition between these two carriers, the merged entity will have less incentive to handle complaints appropriately and to treat its consumers fairly and in accordance with the law.”

Weiser wrote a similar letter to former US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in September 2020, in which he raised concerns about Frontier. He said the Justice Department had received several complaints about the airline’s customer service issues, including failure to provide refunds or issue them promptly.

In his 2022 letter to Buttigieg, Weiser said these complaints, in addition to the merger plans, mean the USDOT must take action.

“Spirit and Frontier have been ranked at the bottom of a group of carriers in the US Customer Satisfaction Index in each of the past seven years,” he wrote. “Both were also in the bottom three of The Wall Street Journal’s recent ranking of nine U.S. airlines, which looked at factors such as cancellations, extreme delays and mishandled baggage, and Spirit received the highest complaint rate. highest of all the airlines analysed.”

He also brought the same complaints to the Law Department that he mentioned in his 2020 letter.

Weiser said he recommends the USDOT review whether the two airlines have in place “practices and policies consistent with laws requiring carriers to treat consumers fairly and honestly,” he said. he writes.

When the merger plans were announced in February, the two companies said in a joint press release that they planned to change the industry to benefit customers by introducing more low-cost flights to more destinations. The merger will make Frontier the fifth largest airline in the United States

“The combined company’s stronger financial profile will allow it to accelerate investments in innovation and growth and to compete even more aggressively, particularly against the dominant ‘Big Four’ airlines, among others,” the report said. communicated.

After the announcement, some analysts warned the deal could face opposition from regulators as President Joe Biden’s administration has taken a tough stance on big-company mergers. For years, the Department of Justice has been concerned about industry consolidation, which has led to less competition and higher fares in the airline industry.

The companies pledged to have the “youngest, most fuel-efficient and greenest aircraft fleet” in the United States, while creating 10,000 direct jobs by 2026.

The merger is expected to be finalized in the second half of this year.

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