Analyst dismisses JetBlue merger speculation

Airline analyst says speculation about JetBlue role in a merger is overblown

Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) -- Ever since the federal government sued last month to block their proposed merger, speculation has grown that American Airlines or US Airways could seek to rebound by combining with JetBlue.

The theory is that JetBlue would make either American or US Airways closer in size to industry leaders United and Delta.

One airline-industry analyst isn't buying it.

"Can we please stop with this (JetBlue) merger talk?" asked Wolfe Research analyst Hunter Keay in a note to clients Friday.

Keay said there are several reasons why a JetBlue deal won't happen if the American-US Airways merger fails.

The analyst noted that JetBlue Airways Corp. CEO Dave Barger has repeatedly said that he doesn't want a merger. JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin told The Associated Press on Friday that "JetBlue believes our plan of independent, organic growth is the best plan for our shareholders, customers and crewmembers."

JetBlue's stance leaves a hostile takeover as the only option for a bid by American or US Airways, Keay said.

Keay also said that regulators who consider the American-US Airways combination anticompetitive would be even more strongly opposed to a deal involving JetBlue. The New York-based airline overlaps with American on 34 routes — by comparison, American and US Airways overlap on just 12 nonstop routes. He also said JetBlue wouldn't do much to help either American or US Airways attract business travelers.

American and US Airways have said that they are determined to complete their merger.

Shares of JetBlue fell 5.5 cents to $6.13 in afternoon trading. Shares of US Airways Group Inc. lost 15 cents to $16.84; and over-the-counter shares of American parent AMR Corp. fell 9 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $3.31.

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