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Spirit, JetBlue terminate $3.8 billion merger after court blocks deal

"We concluded that current regulatory obstacles will not permit us to close this transaction in a timely fashion under the merger agreement," Spirit President and CEO Ted Christie said. 

Published: March 4, 2024 8:59am

Updated: March 4, 2024 9:20am

Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways announced Monday that the companies agreed to no longer merge following a federal court's decision to block JetBlue's $3.8 billion purchase of Spirit in response to a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit.

"After discussing our options with our advisors and JetBlue, we concluded that current regulatory obstacles will not permit us to close this transaction in a timely fashion under the merger agreement," Spirit President and CEO Ted Christie said.

The merger agreement emerged in July 2022, but the required legal and regulatory approvals meant that the merger's agreement was unlikely to be met by the set date of July 24, 2024, JetBlue said

"We believed this merger was worth pursuing because it would have unleashed a national low-fare, high-value competitor to the Big Four airlines," JetBlue CEO Joanna Geraghty said. "We are proud of the work we did with Spirit to lay out a vision to challenge the status quo, but given the hurdles to closing that remain, we decided together that both airlines’ interests are better served by moving forward independently."

Under the new agreement reached in lieu of the merger, JetBlue will pay Spirit $69 million and all matters related to the deal will be resolved.

Although the merger did not ultimately occur, while the agreement was in effect, Spirit shareholders recieved about $425 million in prepayments, Spirit said. 

The Justice Department had filed a lawsuit to stop the merger in 2023, arguing that "JetBlue’s plan would eliminate the unique competition that Spirit provides – and about half of all ultra-low-cost airline seats in the industry – and leave tens of millions of travelers to face higher fares and fewer options."

If the merger would have succeeded, JetBlue would become the fifth-largest domestic airline in the U.S.

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