Spirit Airlines said Tuesday it received an unsolicited offer from JetBlue Airways of about $3.6 billion, potentially upsetting merger plans between Frontier Group Holdings and Spirit.
Spirit’s shares are up 22%, the highest level since mid-February. Airline stocks have suffered as air travel fell dramatically during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Spirit’s 52-week high of $39.19 is $6 above JetBlue’s reported bid of $33 per share.
The New York Times previously reported on JetBlue’s $33-a-share bid, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
Spirit declined to comment beyond a written statement. Frontier and JetBlue, the sixth largest US airline, did not immediately comment. The US Department of Justice, which would review any merger proposal, declined to comment.
In February, Frontier Airlines announced it was buying its rival low-cost carrier Spirit for $2.9 billion in cash and stock as part of a deal that will create the fifth-largest US airline.
JetBlue has bid about $3.6 billion, the New York Times reported. Getty Images
A Frontier spokesman said Tuesday that the combination of Spirit and Frontier will bring consumers $1 billion in annual savings.
“Unlike the compelling Spirit-Frontier combination, an acquisition of Spirit by JetBlue, a high-price airline, would result in more expensive travel for consumers,” the spokesman said. “In particular, the significant East Coast overlap between JetBlue and Spirit would reduce competition and limit consumer choice.” It is surprising that JetBlue is contemplating such a merger at this time given that the Justice Department is currently suing to block its pending alliance with American Airlines.”