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JetBlue bids $3.6 billion for Spirit Airlines, putting Frontier merger up in the air

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JetBlue has offered to buy Spirit Airlines for $3.6 billion, putting the budget airline’s merger with Frontier Airlines up in the air two months after it was announced.

The announcement on Tuesday gave Spirit Airline’s stock a major boost, reports Forbes.

The Spirit-Frontier merger is still likely to face scrutiny from the Biden administration, which has vowed to crack down on mega-mergers between big companies. The merger between Frontier and Spirit would consolidate the nation’s two largest budget airline carriers into one.

The board of directors at Spirit Airlines now will evaluate JetBlue’s offer before deciding how to proceed.

“The number one complaint we get is why don’t you fly to more places,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes told Reuters Tuesday. “What we want to do is create a bigger JetBlue.”

JetBlue, the United States’ sixth largest airline carrier, said that the merger would make the airline a bigger competitor against the country’s four legacy airlines that comprise 80 percent of the current domestic market in the U.S., according to Reuters.

However, the Spirit-Frontier merger has been touted as a good fit for the airlines because Spirit mainly operates on the East Coast, while Frontier’s primary market is on the West Coast. Both Spirit and JetBlue are mainly East Coast airlines.

“Unlike the compelling Spirit-Frontier combination, an acquisition of Spirit by JetBlue, a high-fare carrier, would lead to more expensive travel for consumers. In particular, the significant East Coast overlap between JetBlue and Spirit would reduce competition and limit options for consumers,” a Frontier Airlines spokesperson told The Hill. 

“It is surprising that JetBlue would consider such a merger at this time given that the Department of Justice is currently suing to block their pending alliance with American Airlines,” continued the Frontier spokesperson.

The Hill has reached out to JetBlue and Spirit for comment.

Updated at 3:13 p.m.

Tags DOJ DOJ frontier airlines frontier airlines JetBlue JetBlue merger New York Robin Hayes spirit airlines Spirit Airlines

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