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Spirit Airlines Rejects JetBlue Offer, Claiming Antitrust Issues

 |  May 2, 2022

Ultra low cost carrier Spirit Airlines on Monday rejected JetBlue Airways’ $33-per-share takeover offer, saying it had a low likelihood of winning approval from government regulators.

JetBlue responded by enhancing its offer – but not its $33 per share price – and promising a $200 million reverse break-up fee – or $1.80 per Spirit share – if the deal does not go through for antitrust reasons.

JetBlue’s offer is significantly higher than the current $22.44 per-share value of the cash and stock bid from Frontier made in February.

Related: JetBlue CEO Is ‘Confident’ Spirit Deal Will Pass Antitrust Reviews

Frontier and JetBlue are in a battle for Spirit to better compete with legacy carriers, or the “big four” airlines that control nearly 80% of the US passenger market.

The Justice Department and six states in September sued to unwind JetBlue and American Airlines’s “Northeast Alliance” partnership, alleging the agreement would lead to higher fares in busy northeastern U.S. airports.

“We believe a combination of JetBlue and Spirit has a low probability of receiving antitrust clearance so long as JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance (NEA) with American Airlines remains in existence,” Spirit said in a letter to JetBlue Chief Executive Robin Hayes Monday.

JetBlue said Monday that it would offer a remedy package to address regulatory concerns “that includes the divestiture of all Spirit assets in New York and Boston so that JetBlue does not increase its presence in the airports covered by the NEA. The package would also include gates and assets at other airports, including Fort Lauderdale.”

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