Spirit Terminates Frontier Merger, Pursues JetBlue

Spirit Terminates Frontier Merger, Pursues JetBlue

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Well this is major!

Spirit terminates agreement with Frontier

In February 2022 it was announced that Frontier intended to acquire Spirit. That didn’t go as smoothly as the two companies had hoped, as JetBlue tried to get in on the action, and made a bid for Spirit as well. After a lot of back-and-forth, there’s a major update.

It has been announced that Spirit has terminated its merger agreement with Frontier, and it will instead pursue a merger with JetBlue. As Spirit CEO Ted Christie describes this decision:

“While we are disappointed that we had to terminate our proposed merger with Frontier, we are proud of the dedicated work of our Team Members on the transaction over the past many months. Moving forward, the Spirit Board of Directors will continue our ongoing discussions with JetBlue as we pursue the best path forward for Spirit and our stockholders.”

Frontier is no longer merging with Spirit

What happened here, and what’s next?

We knew all along that Spirit’s management and board far preferred a takeover by Frontier to a takeover by JetBlue. However, JetBlue has fought hard, and even attempted a hostile takeover… and it seems like it worked! Spirit shareholders voted against the merger with Frontier.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how this plays out now. On paper, JetBlue had a much better offer than Frontier all along. The argument against Spirit being taken over by JetBlue was that there were concerns about whether the deal would gain antitrust approval, given the impact it would have on competition.

JetBlue offered a significant reverse termination fee in case the deal doesn’t work out due to regulatory concerns, which was intended to put shareholders at ease. Let’s see what the two companies come up with now.

Personally I’m sad to see this latest development… sort of. In an ideal world, we just don’t see any merger now, but I suspect that’s unlikely. If a merger were to happen, I’d much rather see Spirit merge with Frontier than see Spirit merge with JetBlue (even though I prefer Spirit to Frontier).

Why? JetBlue and Spirit are just too different, yet both airlines have some things going for them. If the two airlines merge, I feel like they’ll both lose their mojo, and will end up as a hybrid between the two airlines, which I just don’t see being pretty.

How do you merge JetBlue’s industry-leading coach product with Spirit’s… not industry-leading coach product? How do you combine Spirit’s Big Front Seat and JetBlue Mint? At least the Wi-Fi will be fast when the airlines merge and their flights are chronically delayed by hours! 😉

A Spirit & JetBlue merger is now on the horizon

Bottom line

Spirit Airlines has called off its merger with Frontier Airlines, and the airline will now instead pursue a merger with JetBlue Airways. JetBlue had a better offer all along, though the catch was that there were major concerns about that deal getting approved. JetBlue offered a reverse termination fee as assurance. Let’s see how this plays out now.

What do you make of Spirit now pursuing a merger with JetBlue rather than Frontier?

Conversations (49)
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  1. Say no to JetBlue Guest

    Be aware Spirit employees, JetBlue employees and atmosphere is incredibly hostile.

    If you're an FA at Spirit, NEVER let JetBlue FAs know you support AFA and prefer AFA over TWU, otherwise JetBlue FAs with bash, harassing you into the ground and ruin your reputation.

  2. Ricport New Member

    This is FANTASTIC news for those of us longing for a stronger and more civilized LCC option to the vile WN Metrobus with wings.

  3. Alonzo Diamond

    So many comments about what Jetblue/Spirit will look like after the merger lol. I don't think this merger has a shot in hell against the DOJ. Don't see how this possibly goes through.

  4. thurstontravel Guest

    If this absurd, pointless merger results in the wholesale ouster and replacement of the Jet Blue c-suite, then that's a win but at the end of the day, this merger is absolutely pointless and joins up two airlines that can't run a reliable operation. If only JetBlue would have long focused on running a reliable airline, it would be in much better shape. Instead, it has expanded aggressively and with abandon only to ruin the...

    If this absurd, pointless merger results in the wholesale ouster and replacement of the Jet Blue c-suite, then that's a win but at the end of the day, this merger is absolutely pointless and joins up two airlines that can't run a reliable operation. If only JetBlue would have long focused on running a reliable airline, it would be in much better shape. Instead, it has expanded aggressively and with abandon only to ruin the rich opportunities it has at JFK and BOS. It will take years and many hundreds of millions of dollars to transform Spirit's planes and align them with the cabin standard on JetBlue. In short, these two are basket case airlines. Frontier will end up pursuing a merger with Allegiant.

  5. Talha Guest

    I think the loss of spirit is concerning.

    Yes, in theory, having JetBlue expand is a better option. But I think most people are not realizing how much spirits business model made an impact and dropped prices,. Frontier existed as an lcc and spirit forced it to drop to ulcc.

    Spirit introduced first cheap rares ($40 Round trip between major cities?!!)

    Spirit innovated with the big front seat

    And the fact the spirit made...

    I think the loss of spirit is concerning.

    Yes, in theory, having JetBlue expand is a better option. But I think most people are not realizing how much spirits business model made an impact and dropped prices,. Frontier existed as an lcc and spirit forced it to drop to ulcc.

    Spirit introduced first cheap rares ($40 Round trip between major cities?!!)

    Spirit innovated with the big front seat

    And the fact the spirit made no qualms about it's business model and was upfront about it is Important

    People commenting here they never liked it were made aware by spirit upfront so they can choose something else.
    Jet blue is saying they will retain. Their model but will probably be a hybrid but we won't see the cheap spirit fares ( that now frontier or the majors will try to match)

  6. Nicole Guest

    Well I’m a Frontier Elite member, I’m glad it didn’t go through . Spirit has a horrible product and horrible everything. I couldn’t stand flying on them. I felt that if the merger went through , basically frontier would have acquired more people which they needed but would had hopefully rid all of the spirit brand. That was all I saw that would have been good. Spirits product is no good. For JetBlue , this...

    Well I’m a Frontier Elite member, I’m glad it didn’t go through . Spirit has a horrible product and horrible everything. I couldn’t stand flying on them. I felt that if the merger went through , basically frontier would have acquired more people which they needed but would had hopefully rid all of the spirit brand. That was all I saw that would have been good. Spirits product is no good. For JetBlue , this would give jet blue more routes and people and more of a presence in places that they don’t go.

    1. thurstontravel Guest

      Frontier Elite?? Is that something to brag about? LOL

  7. FlyerDon Guest

    Just start painting their airplanes. Spirit’s fly in the bright blue sky, not in a jar of mustard.

  8. Jim Guest

    “end up as a hybrid between the two airlines”

    How long until we are watching cell phone video of two passengers in a fist fight over the last bag of blue chips?

  9. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The biggest winner of JBLU-SAVE will be Delta that will benefit while JBLU impoverishes itself

    1. Leigh Guest

      Your DL bias is well established. However, I give you credit for usually having facts to support your arguments. In this case, no facts, just a biased opinion.

      It's way too early to make such generalizations.

      If they 1) get DOJ approval, and 2) manage the merger well (not a given)...then then it will all balance out, and indeed B6 will become be a stronger competitor.

      And get off the arrogant high horse...

      Your DL bias is well established. However, I give you credit for usually having facts to support your arguments. In this case, no facts, just a biased opinion.

      It's way too early to make such generalizations.

      If they 1) get DOJ approval, and 2) manage the merger well (not a given)...then then it will all balance out, and indeed B6 will become be a stronger competitor.

      And get off the arrogant high horse by using their stock symbols instead of their IATA codes. This site attracts aviation enthusiasts far more than airline stock investors.

  10. Lawrence Lemke Guest

    JetBlue and Spirit can now build a larger competitive airline with all the bells and whistles and they will be able to expand faster as B6 will add more Europe S America Hawaii and a larger west coast presence out of LAS and LAX, Spirit has a lot of new aircraft on order and many aircraft will be converted to Mint. JetBlue will be a much stronger airline with an enhanced service product

  11. Chris P Bacon Guest

    I think it has potential to be a win for consumers. If B6 and NK merge, the NK product goes away, and if successful, B6 becomes a serious competitor for the big 4 airlines. With F9 the only nationwide ULCC, it opens opportunities for the other ULCCs. Breeze, Avelo, and Allegiant will have plenty of new markets to jump onto, and only 1 gorilla ULCC to sit on them.

    Besides, I used today's news as...

    I think it has potential to be a win for consumers. If B6 and NK merge, the NK product goes away, and if successful, B6 becomes a serious competitor for the big 4 airlines. With F9 the only nationwide ULCC, it opens opportunities for the other ULCCs. Breeze, Avelo, and Allegiant will have plenty of new markets to jump onto, and only 1 gorilla ULCC to sit on them.

    Besides, I used today's news as an opportunity to get a Spirit credit card. Hopefully the 60000 Spirit points will turn into a nice pile of True Blue oints!

  12. Sharon Guest

    Jetblue's finances are horrid, even without the merger. They are likely the only large airline that will continue to remain unprofitable in Q2 2022.

    If JetBlue is to complete an acquisition, and in their litigation they confirm (which they have done) that they will retain the Jetblue model (ie. removing 26 seats from each a320), it would be a material misstatement if they were to switch their fleet to the spirit configuration.

    Jetblue...

    Jetblue's finances are horrid, even without the merger. They are likely the only large airline that will continue to remain unprofitable in Q2 2022.

    If JetBlue is to complete an acquisition, and in their litigation they confirm (which they have done) that they will retain the Jetblue model (ie. removing 26 seats from each a320), it would be a material misstatement if they were to switch their fleet to the spirit configuration.

    Jetblue must abandon the acquisition, it will further wreck their finances if they proceed. In the meantime Spirit will continue to grow pressuring Jetblue's margins

  13. Aerov53 Member

    JetBlue can say all they want about the end-product being 100% JetBlue. It will take years and years of hard product changes, retraining, attrition, and ground operations changes. Everyone seems to trust an executive's words over common sense. This is going to be ugly for a while if it ever pans out.

  14. Starz Guest

    You’re all missing a point here. It was never JB’s intention to merge with Spirit…What they wanted is to just break up the Frontier-Spirit merger. They perfectly know that their offer is DOA due to the regulatory issue, but are ready to pay $400m in termination fees which would be way less than what they could potentially lose from the Spirit/Frontier transaction…

    1. BenjaminGuttery Gold

      Can't Frontier/Spirit just go again afterwards then? Or Spirit buys one of the start up ULCC's with the extra cash and Frontier does the same. Them JB is really screwed.

    2. Never In Doubt Guest

      Yes, Starz is a clown.

    3. Stan P Guest

      Hahaha , obviously you have no idea about aviation industry or plane and pilots availability…

  15. bhcompy Member

    Maybe they'll reestablish their west coast network and expand beyond precovid routes now. It's been extremely frustrating sitting on points and travel banks with nothing to use them on

  16. Regis Guest

    Frontier + Spirit = biggest ULCC direct competitor eliminated: WIN for FRONTIER.

    JetBlue + Spirit = biggest ULCC direct competitor eliminated: WIN for FRONTIER.

    Frontier wins here either way. Time to pick some ULCC stocks!

    1. NJP11 Member

      Not to mention that if the merger goes through that Spirits operations in NYC, BOS, and probably FLL will have to be divested and Frontier is probably the prime candidate.

    2. Sam Guest

      Combined B6 & NK bowing out of a route does nothing for F9 if they have no additional planes to take it over, it just becomes a dropped route.

    3. JB Guest

      But Frontier will likely order new planes as a result of this. They will be the only major ULCC in these cities without Spirit, and there will still be a large market with few airlines to cater to it, which is an opportunity Frontier would likely take (and would likely be a profitable move).

  17. Chris Guest

    Glad to see this as I enjoy flying on spirit but I’ve had nothing but terrible experiences on frontier

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Spirit is going away.

  18. Chase Guest

    Grab your popcorn, because this will be an epic s***s*** to watch them trying to merge these polar opposite corporate cultures.

  19. Mark Guest

    Having flown all three , Frontier & Spirit would be a far easier integration (as their product was basically the same) . Spirit & Jetblue will be a very tricky merger (far harder than Alaska & Virgin ) but I have an opinion Jetblue will end up like Spirit , rather than the other way around.

  20. AlanD Guest

    I just hope that this sees a genuine expansion of the B6 network in places where they operate 0 or 1 routes now.

    I wonder what F9 will do? Consider going after Allegiant? Wait and see if they can pick up a few of the newer market entries like Avelo?

    1. Regis Guest

      Frontier will do nothing. If Spirit is absorbed into JetBlue, Frontier will essentially have the whole ULCC market for itself. Without their biggest competitor, Frontier can grow, raise fares and rake in the cash. All Frontier has to do is wait and basically be the only big player in the ULCC market. Notice Frontier shares just went up today with the release of failed merger.

  21. RetiredATLATC Diamond

    Three garbage airlines that I'll never fly.

  22. uldguy Diamond

    Personally, I'm glad to see this development. JetBlue gets rid of a pesky competitor and picks up a good fleet of A320s in the process. They will likely have to give up some slots at JFK and possibly some other "penalties" to get this approved. But all in all this allows JetBlue to grow much more quickly, and hopefully they will open another hub outside of the Northeast, like, say, oh-I-don't know: MSP.

    1. Leigh Gold

      Spirit doesn't fly to JFK, so why would JetBlue have to give up slots there? The likely airport that would require slot concessions would be Fort Lauderdale.

      I also never thought of Spirit as a competitor for JetBlue, but can see the benefits of an expanded network with fleet commonality.

      However, as Lucky mentions, how they are going to align their inflight product is going to be interesting.

    2. bhcompy Member

      The ways slots work are weird. JetBlue was forced to give up LGB/IAD years ago when it expanded at another airport(DCA I think). Sucks because it was the only non-LAX direct flight to DC out of the LA area at the time.

    3. BenjaminGuttery Gold

      All airlines are competitors of other airlines. The average consumer shops on location (ease of flight to and from cities), time/day of flights, and price. Most consumers don't have airline status, lounge access, or specific airline cards. You would be very surprised the average amount of flights that the average American takes per year or who they fly. They are not loyal whatsoever.

  23. CMC Guest

    Oh Darned those golden parachutes to the C-suite and board will not be possible. Ah shucks!

    The best course of action is no changes. Let things be as they may and no more shutdowns/mergers/eliminations. The big 4 got that way because they were allowed to buy each other up. Even if B6 tries, I'm hoping the DOJ blocks it. Nothing good ever comes out eliminations (mergers).

  24. Evan Guest

    There is an interesting parallel to the Frontier/Midwest combination. Midwest (formerly Midwest Express) had a JetBlue-esque focus on quality. It's hard to believe it, but their narrow-body mainline jets (based out of MKE and MCI, primarily) were in a 2-2 config of large, domestic-first recliners all the way back, and they served full meals even on short hops. This was in the 1990s and early 2000s, not the 1960s! They also baked chocolate chip cookies...

    There is an interesting parallel to the Frontier/Midwest combination. Midwest (formerly Midwest Express) had a JetBlue-esque focus on quality. It's hard to believe it, but their narrow-body mainline jets (based out of MKE and MCI, primarily) were in a 2-2 config of large, domestic-first recliners all the way back, and they served full meals even on short hops. This was in the 1990s and early 2000s, not the 1960s! They also baked chocolate chip cookies on board and developed a cult following for them. When Frontier took them over, they did away with the meals first, then added coach seats to the planes, and finally cut the chocolate chip cookies. We all know how this story ends.

    JetBlue has much more nationwide brand cachet than Midwest ever had, and they've invested so much in their premium product. I personally think we'll see this deal go through, and JetBlue will maintain their best planes on high-rev routes, with a sort of budget product (think United's "Ted" foray or Air Canada Rouge) to the hundreds of other destinations served by Spirit. Seems like a good outcome to me, but we'll see if the tie-up improves Spirit's image or simply tarnishes JetBlue's...

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Jet Blue has announced that the end product of the merger will be 100% Jet Blue, so your “I personally think” is nonsense.

      Getting to 100% Jet Blue isn’t going to be easy though.

    2. Evan Guest

      Nonsense is a bit strong, no? I know what JetBlue has announced. What they will do in practice may be a different story. My prediction stands.

    3. Evan Guest

      @Never In Doubt, do you really believe every corporate announcement you read, or do you occasionally exercise some judgment of your own? And what exactly does "100% JetBlue" mean, anyway? It's going to be one airline, but I think the JetBlue of the future will be different. That's been true of every single merger.

    4. Never In Doubt Guest

      Corporate announcements > Comments of chuckleheads on the internet.

    5. Stephen Hinkle Guest

      I think it can be done but you are right it is going to be some work. What I suspect they will do (assuming they stick to the plan) is the following:

      1) Complete the regulatory requirements (SEC, Justice Dept, FAA, etc) for the merger.

      2) Run a transition phase of Spirit to JetBlue in which the airplane cabin remodel and repainting process occurs. During low travel demand they gradually take some Spirit Aircraft in...

      I think it can be done but you are right it is going to be some work. What I suspect they will do (assuming they stick to the plan) is the following:

      1) Complete the regulatory requirements (SEC, Justice Dept, FAA, etc) for the merger.

      2) Run a transition phase of Spirit to JetBlue in which the airplane cabin remodel and repainting process occurs. During low travel demand they gradually take some Spirit Aircraft in for maintenance in which they are converted to the JetBlue seating configuration with additional legroom, and the addition of TV screens, Ovens for hot food in Mint, and other changes.

      3) During the transition phase, the marketing of JetBlue aircraft (both original and converted) is given the JetBlue branding, and those on aircraft not coverted yet will be branded as Spirit flights. Seating capacity on some spirit flights may be reduced in the booking process to the JetBlue converted capacity on some booked in advanced flights that the aircraft will be converted between booking and the actual date of flight.

      4) Over time, the Spirit brand on airplanes will die and they will all be repainted JetBlue.

      5) In the Airports other conversion methods will also occur. I think they will move some gates around so that JetBlue and Spirit share the same concourses, same ticket check in counters, same baggage claim carousels, same Kiosks, and are merged into the same check-in and gate agent computer systems,

      6) Spirit and JetBlue during the Transition Phase will start code sharing with each other until all the flight numbers are the same and the airplanes are rebranded JetBlue. You might see "JetBlue operated by Spirit Airlines" or "Spirit operated by JetBlue Airways" on some of your Spirit or JetBlue flights.

      7) It will be interesting to see the pricing of the new JetBlue. Will it be more like the JetBlue where most things are included, or will they adopt a more Spirit like "Bare Fare" and you pay fees for things like checked bags, carry-on bags, snacks, drinks, entertainment, etc. It will be interesting to see which way they go with this merger on the fee structure.

    6. Leigh Gold

      Spirit flies to approx 90 destinations, so not sure were you get the reference to "the hundreds" of destinations they serve?

      I do have find memories of Midwest, who had a secondary base in my hometown of Kansas City.

    7. chasgoose Guest

      By the time Midwest merged with Frontier its product had already been degraded to a shadow of what it once was. JetBlue’s model is still feasible if they can get more planes and pilots and staff.

  25. Luke Guest

    Perhaps time to use up my Jetblue Trueblue points balance, dont have a good feeling about how this overpayment for SAVE will impact their financial position.

  26. Bill Guest

    Why are you writing about a hybrid product? JetBlue has already announced that the inflight product will be JetBlue's. Spirit won't exist so people won't have to suffer with their ULCC product any more. If people want less legroom and a poor product, they are welcome to fly Frontier:)

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      The “hybrid” product is Ben’s imagination.

      Corporate integration, as always, will be the big challenge. And it has the potential to seriously mess up both companies in the interim until completed.

    2. Steve Diamond

      Agreed @Bill.

      I cant stand Frontier and as someone who will fly Spirit (the Big Front Seat is one of the best secret's in travel), i dont mind if it turns into JetBlue. We dont have Jetblue coverage at my hub but we have spirit. So for me personally this is a big plus, i either keep my big front seat if the flight is cheaper or more conveinent thant my legacy carrier or i...

      Agreed @Bill.

      I cant stand Frontier and as someone who will fly Spirit (the Big Front Seat is one of the best secret's in travel), i dont mind if it turns into JetBlue. We dont have Jetblue coverage at my hub but we have spirit. So for me personally this is a big plus, i either keep my big front seat if the flight is cheaper or more conveinent thant my legacy carrier or i get a jetblue route to compete with the Big3 instead of spirit. So thats a win. I think you only lose here if you were a jetblue regular who might be getting a downgrade here but i have to imagine its all new interiors and seats for the planes they take over.

    3. Evan Guest

      @Steve, this is a bit off topic, but do you find Spirit to be reliable enough to substitute for the legacy carriers? I've been tempted by the Big Front Seat, but I've hesitated because it's an inferior product in every other way, including on-time performance, which is what I really care about.

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Bill Guest

Why are you writing about a hybrid product? JetBlue has already announced that the inflight product will be JetBlue's. Spirit won't exist so people won't have to suffer with their ULCC product any more. If people want less legroom and a poor product, they are welcome to fly Frontier:)

4
RetiredATLATC Diamond

Three garbage airlines that I'll never fly.

2
Sharon Guest

Jetblue's finances are horrid, even without the merger. They are likely the only large airline that will continue to remain unprofitable in Q2 2022. If JetBlue is to complete an acquisition, and in their litigation they confirm (which they have done) that they will retain the Jetblue model (ie. removing 26 seats from each a320), it would be a material misstatement if they were to switch their fleet to the spirit configuration. Jetblue must abandon the acquisition, it will further wreck their finances if they proceed. In the meantime Spirit will continue to grow pressuring Jetblue's margins

1
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