JetBlue Airways has agreed to acquire rival discount carrier Spirit Airlines, in a $3.8 billion deal that will create the nation’s fifth-largest carrier.
The deal, announced yesterday, ends a bidding war for Spirit and came hours after Spirit ended plans to merge with another US discount airline, Frontier Airlines.
If approved by regulators, JetBlue’s takeover of Spirit would leave Frontier as the largest discount carrier in the U.S. Industry experts say the deal could lead to more acquisitions among smaller carriers.
The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2024, JetBlue and Spirit said in a statement. They expect to be able to fly as the same airline, in the first half of 2025, a spokeswoman said.
“We have two priorities: one is to get this deal closed and get the airline integrated and build a bigger JetBlue, secondly to run a reliable operation in the meantime.”, said JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes in an interview with CNBC.