The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has denied relief sought by jetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) in the form of a renewed thorough competition analysis of the proposed combined Delta Air Lines, Air France-KLM, and Virgin Atlantic transatlantic joint venture.

"While we are not discounting jetBlue's concerns about trans-Atlantic competition and European airport access, the record contains all the information necessary to adjudicate the competitive issues raised in this matter," the DOT said in an order issued on January 23, 2019.

Consequently, the DOT determined "the record in this proceeding to be substantially complete and direct[ed] all interested parties to file answers to the Applicants’ motion" within 14 calendar days.

The American airline previously argued that the proposed merger of the two separate transatlantic joint ventures of Delta Air Lines will significantly alter the competitive balance on the market, particularly in light of the slot holdings at some of the busiest European hubs, including London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Amsterdam Schiphol, and Paris CDG.

As such, jetBlue requested that a full new competitive review be conducted.

After a back-and-forth exchange of filings, the JV applicants voluntarily disclosed their slot holdings at the key gateways. They argued that while the share of slots at Heathrow held by the JV members would indeed increase from 5% to 8%, the "combined share of 8% of the slots at LHR will remain very small compared to ENT!IAG's 60% share". The applicants argued that the combination of joint ventures would not significantly alter slot holdings at other airports.

The DOT established that the information voluntarily provided by the applicants suffices to reject jetBlue's motion.

jetBlue also argued that Brexit and the potential takeover of flybe. by a Virgin-led consortium would further alter the competitive landscape.

The DOT dismissed this point, saying that "jetBlue’s arguments concerning the complications of Brexit and the potential purchase of flybe. by Virgin are, at this point, only hypothetical."