JetBlue Airways has reached a deal to acquire Spirit Airlines, hours after an alternative bid by Frontier Airlines was scrapped.
The New York-based carrier has agreed to pay $33.50 per share in cash for the ultra-low-cost operator, in a deal worth $3.8bn.
If approved by regulators, the acquisition would create the United States’ fifth largest carrier.
Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue, said: “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.
“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.”
Ted Christie, president and chief executive officer, Spirit, added: “We are thrilled to unite with JetBlue through our improved agreement to create the most compelling national low-fare challenger to the dominant US carriers, and we look forward to working with JetBlue to complete the transaction.
The combined airline is expected to have a fleet of 458 aircraft on a pro forma basis and an order book of over 300 Airbus examples.
The companies expect to complete the regulatory process and close the transaction no later than the first half of 2024.
Frontier announced its intention to buy Spirit in February, while JetBlue submitted what it called a “superior” bid for the operator in April.
Since then, the pair have been battling it out with each sweeting their offers until the Frontier deal was scrapped yesterday, clearing the way for JetBlue to make a move.