Spirit again postpones vote on shareholder merger to continue discussions with Frontier and JetBlue

A Spirit Airlines plane on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on February 07, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Spirit Airlines on Wednesday postponed a shareholder vote on its proposed merger with Frontier Airlines until July 8, hours before a meeting scheduled for Thursday so it can further discuss options with Frontier and rival suitor JetBlue Airways.

It’s the second time Spirit has delayed a vote on its proposed merger with Frontier and extends the most contentious battle for a US airline in years.

Spirit originally scheduled Thursday’s vote for June 10, but delayed it for the same reasons.

Both Frontier and JetBlue increased their bids in the week before the scheduled vote approached.

“Spirit wouldn’t have postponed tomorrow’s meeting if he felt he had the votes,” said Henry Harteveldt, travel industry consultant and president of Atmosphere Research Group. Spirit has not commented if this is the case.

“We commend the Spirit Board for listening to its shareholders, who were clearly not supportive of the Frontier transaction, and for adjourning the special meeting,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement Wednesday. .

“It is clear that Spirit shareholders have now given the Spirit Board an undeniable mandate to reach an agreement with JetBlue.”

“It’s like the end of a soap opera,” added Harteveldt.

Frontier and Spirit first announced their intention to merge in February. In April, JetBlue made a surprise all-cash offer for Spirit, but Spirit’s board of directors has repeatedly rejected JetBlue’s offers, arguing that a JetBlue takeover would not pass the mark with regulators. .

Either combination would create the fifth largest carrier in the United States.

JetBlue hit back at Spirit, saying it failed to negotiate in good faith, sparking a war of words between the airlines as they sparred for shareholder support ahead of the vote.

Frontier did not immediately comment on the postponed vote.

Shares of Spirit rose about 2% in after-hours trading, while Frontier rose more than 1% and JetBlue fell 1%.

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