A twist in the merger between Frontier and Spirit Airlines this week could change the landscape of US air travel. On April 5, JetBlue made a surprise offer for Spirit Airlines shares, offering to pay $33 per share, nearly 30% more than Frontier had offered.
“We are pleased the Spirit Board recognizes the compelling value for all stakeholders that JetBlue has offered,” said Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue.
JetBlue’s approach was celebrated by the board of Spirit, a Florida-based low-cost airline that is in dire financial straits. Despite this, Spirit said it will consider a possible proposal from JetBlue, but within the limits of the agreement with Frontier.
“Spirit intends to engage in discussions with JetBlue with respect to JetBlue’s proposal, in accordance with the terms of the Company’s merger agreement with Frontier,” Spirit said in a statement Thursday.
Spirit remains bound by the merger agreement with Frontier, and Spirit’s Board has not determined that the Jet Blue’s proposal in fact a Superior Proposal terms of the merger agreement with Frontier,” the carrier noted.
In February, Frontier and Spirit announced plans for a merger valued at $6.6 billion, with a deal expected to be signed in the second half of 2022.
The possible merger would create the 5th largest airline in the US, behind Delta, American, United and Southwest, putting JetBlue in a difficult position.
In terms of fleet, Spirit Airlines has 176 A320 family jets while Frontier has 112 Airbus aircraft. JetBlue, in turn, operates 214 A320 and A321 aircraft, nine A220 and 60 ERJ-190.