JetBlue Airbus A320 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (photo via Boarding1Now/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)
JetBlue Airways will purchase Spirit Airlines, a deal announced early this morning less than 14 hours after Spirit shareholders rejected a merger deal with Frontier Airlines.
JetBlue had been trying to acquire Spirit since April, just six weeks after Spirit had already announced an agreement in principle to merge with Frontier in what eventually became a five-month battle among the three airlines.
“We are excited to deliver this compelling combination that turbocharges our strategic growth, enabling JetBlue to bring our unique blend of low fares and exceptional service to more customers, on more routes,” Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s CEO, said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming Spirit’s outstanding Team Members to JetBlue and together creating a customer-centric, fifth-largest carrier in the United States. Spirit and JetBlue will continue to advance our shared goal of disrupting the industry to bring down fares from the Big Four airlines. This combination is an exciting opportunity to diversify and expand our network, add jobs and new possibilities for Crewmembers, and expand our platform for profitable growth.”
Pending regulatory approval – a big ‘if’ given the Department of Justice’s current lawsuit against JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance deal with American Airlines – the merger of a combination of JetBlue and Spirit would create the nation’s fifth largest airline. JetBlue will pay $33.50 a share in cash for Spirit in a deal that totals $3.8 billion.
“We are thrilled to unite with JetBlue through our improved agreement to create the most compelling national low-fare challenger to the dominant U.S. carriers, and we look forward to working with JetBlue to complete the transaction. Bringing our two airlines together will be a game changer, and we are confident that JetBlue will deliver opportunities for our Guests and Team Members with JetBlue’s unique blend of low fares and award-winning service,” said Spirit CEO Ted Christie. “We especially appreciate the commitment of our Spirit Family throughout this process. Today’s exciting announcement reflects JetBlue’s admiration for Spirit and a shared belief in what the combined airline can bring for our Guests.”
Ironically, Christie and Spirit’s Board of Directors had fought against a merger with JetBlue for months out of fear that such an alliance would not survive regulatory approval.
The two airlines said they expect to conclude the regulatory process and close the transaction no later than the first half of 2024.
In a vote delayed four times over six weeks, Spirit announced Wednesday that its shareholders had rejected the Frontier deal and that the low-budget carrier had terminated its previous agreement with Frontier.
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