Robert Isom conceded that Delta has "run a nice, reliable airline'' and enjoys some cost advantages over American.

The CEO of American Airlines said Monday that his airline needed a partnership with JetBlue because Delta Air Lines had bulked up through a merger sooner than American, had more takeoff and landing rights at New York airports, and fewer unionized workers, AP reports.

Robert Isom also conceded that Delta has “run a nice, reliable airline” and enjoys some cost advantages over American.

The Justice Department and six states are suing American and JetBlue in federal court over their regional partnership in the Northeast, which government lawyers call a de facto merger. Isom defended the arrangement, which has been in effect for well over a year, as JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes did last week during a trial in federal court in Boston.

Hayes, however, once had misgivings about the deal _ called the Northeast alliance, or NEA _ because of American’s size advantage over JetBlue.

Laurence _ who later jumped to American after a one-month gig at Delta _ testified that Hayes worried American “had nearly unlimited resources” to tilt the alliance to its favor. Despite Hayes’ concerns, American and JetBlue announced their deal six months after Laurence’s text message.

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