May 2, 2022 - Economy

Spirit Airlines rebuffs acquisition offer from JetBlue

A Spirit Airlines airplane

A Spirit Airlines airplane at Indianapolis International Airport on Feb. 7. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Spirit Airlines announced on Monday that it has rejected an acquisition offer from JetBlue, saying it feared the deal would not be cleared by antitrust regulators.

Driving the news: Last month, JetBlue made an unsolicited offer to buy Spirit for $3.6 billion.

  • Spirit will instead be going forward with their planned merger with fellow low-cost carrier Frontier, which was announced in February. The deal is set to create the fifth-largest U.S. airline.

What they're saying: "Spirit continues to believe in the strategic rationale of the proposed merger with Frontier and is confident that it represents the best opportunity to maximize long-term shareholder value," Mac Gardner, the chair of Spirit's board of directors, said in a statement.

  • In a letter to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, Spirit executives wrote that the proposed deal between the two airlines "has a low probability of receiving antitrust clearance" due to JetBlue's partnership with American Airlines, known as the Northeast Alliance.

State of play: Last year, the Justice Department sued JetBlue and American Airlines over their planned partnership on the basis that it is anticompetitive. A number of states have also sued to block the partnership, per the New York Times.

  • Spirit executives wrote in the letter that JetBlue's response to their concerns about the Northeast Alliance "makes clear that JetBlue is unwilling to terminate the NEA."

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that JetBlue offered to buy Spirit Airlines for $3.6 billion, not $3.6 million.

Go deeper