JetBlue To Buy Spirit Airlines In New Merger For Fifth-largest US Carrier

by Carolee Chanona

Spirit Airlines will now be purchased by JetBlue Airways for $3.8 billion, which will create the fifth largest carrier in the United States. Announced Thursday, the agreement concluded a months-long bidding war — one day after Spirit’s attempt to merge with fellow budget carrier Frontier Airlines fell apart.

JetBlue Rapidly Grows Its Route Network

A JetBlue airliner lands past a Spirit Airlines jet on taxi way at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport on Monday, April 25, 2022. (Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Joe Cavaretta | Sun Sentinel | Getty Images

Together, JetBlue and Spirit would have about 9% of the U.S. air-travel market. American, United, Delta, and Southwest—all of which currently fly to Belize—control about 80% when international flights are included. But as JetBlue now acquires Spirit, the possibility of expanding to more international destinations is a possibility.

JetBlue caribbean expansion flights

After all, JetBlue only just commenced its first flights to Canada as recently as June 2022 with the start of daily services between New York and Vancouver. Not only does today mark JetBlue’s first venture into the Canadian market, but JetBlue also becomes the only airline to fly nonstop between New York JFK and Vancouver. That daily flights add to JetBlue’s rapidly growing route network.

Spirit and Frontier announced their plan to merge in February, and Spirit’s board stood by that deal even after JetBlue made a higher-priced offer in April. However, Spirit’s board could never convince the airline’s shareholders to go along. A vote on the merger was postponed four times, then cut short Wednesday when Spirit and Frontier announced they were terminating their agreement, which made a Spirit-JetBlue coupling inevitable.

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