JetBlue launches hostile takeover bid of Spirit Airlines

A passenger checks in for a JetBlue flight at O'Hare International Airport on April 6. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

JetBlue on Monday launched what is effectively a hostile takeover bid for Spirit Airlines.

Driving the news: JetBlue in a letter to Spirit's shareholders urged them to vote against an earlier deal to merge with Frontier airlines.

  • "Based on the clear superiority of our offer, we expected the Spirit Board to engage constructively," JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in the letter to shareholders.
  • "Given its unwillingness to share necessary information or negotiate in good faith, we adjusted our price accordingly, but will work towards a consensual transaction at $33 per share, subject to receiving the information to support it."

State of play: Spirit Airlines earlier this month rejected an acquisition offer from JetBlue for $3.6 billion, saying it feared the deal would not be cleared by antitrust regulators.

  • The Justice Department last year sued JetBlue and American Airlines over their planned consolidation, saying it is anticompetitive. A number of states have also sued to block the partnership, per the New York Times.

Thought bubble from Axios' Dan Primack: It's unclear if U.S. antitrust regulators would allow JetBlue to buy Spirit (despite what JetBlue argued this morning). But, if the deal is allowed, it could spark a series of airline industry mergers.

Go deeper … Spirit Airlines rebuffs acquisition offer from JetBlue

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