JetBlue Airways Corporation and Spirit Airlines, Inc. have announced that their boards of directors have approved a definitive merger agreement under which JetBlue will acquire Spirit for $33.50 per share in cash, including a prepayment of $2.50 per share in cash payable upon Spirit stockholders’ approval of the transaction and a ticking fee of $0.10 per month starting in January 2023 through closing, for an aggregate fully diluted equity value of $3.8 billion and an adjusted enterprise value of $7.6 billion.
“We are excited to deliver this compelling combination that turbocharges our strategic growth, enabling JetBlue to bring our unique blend of low fares and exceptional service to more customers, on more routes,” said Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue.“We look forward to welcoming Spirit’s outstanding Team Members to JetBlue and together creating a customer-centric, fifth-largest carrier in the United States. Spirit and JetBlue will continue to advance our shared goal of disrupting the industry to bring down fares from the Big Four airlines. This combination is an exciting opportunity to diversify and expand our network, add jobs and new possibilities for Crewmembers, and expand our platform for profitable growth.”
“Combining with Spirit will give JetBlue an even larger platform to deliver on our mission to inspire humanity,” said Peter Boneparth, chair of the board, JetBlue. “With the best Crewmembers and Team Members in the industry, our Board and leadership team look forward to building long-term sustainable value for all our stakeholders as an even stronger, more competitive low-fare airline.”
Ted Christie, president and chief executive officer, Spirit, said, “We are thrilled to unite with JetBlue through our improved agreement to create the most compelling national low-fare challenger to the dominant U.S. carriers, and we look forward to working with JetBlue to complete the transaction. Bringing our two airlines together will be a game changer, and we are confident that JetBlue will deliver opportunities for our Guests and Team Members with JetBlue’s unique blend of low fares and award-winning service. We especially appreciate the commitment of our Spirit Family throughout this process. Today’s exciting announcement reflects JetBlue’s admiration for Spirit and a shared belief in what the combined airline can bring for our Guests.”
“We are pleased that the Spirit Board of Directors’ robust and diligent process has delivered additional value to our stockholders,” said Mac Gardner, chairman of the board, Spirit. “This is a compelling combination that provides meaningful protections for stockholders against an adverse regulatory outcome with a significant cash premium that reflects the continued hard work and dedication of the Spirit Family.”
The completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and approval of Spirit’s stockholders. The companies expect to conclude the regulatory process and close the transaction no later than the first half of 2024.
“We believe we can uniquely be a solution to the lack of competition in the U.S. airline industry and the continued dominance of the Big Four,” Hayes continued. “By enabling JetBlue to grow faster, we can go head-to-head with the legacies in more places to lower fares and improve service for everyone. Even combined with Spirit, JetBlue will still be significantly smaller than the Big Four, but we’ll be much better positioned to bring the proven JetBlue Effect to many more routes and locations.”
The airlines will continue to operate independently until after the transaction closes and their respective loyalty programs remain unchanged, and customer accounts will not be affected in any way.
Following completion of the acquisition, the combined airline will be based in New York and be led by Robin Hayes.
As previously announced, Spirit has terminated its prior merger agreement with Frontier. JetBlue has terminated its previously announced all-cash tender offer to acquire Spirit common stock.