Spirit Airlines shareholders have approved the merger deal with JetBlue based on preliminary voting results, Spirit announced on Wednesday. Completion of the deal is subject to closing conditions and regulatory approval, but the carriers expect to complete the process and close the transaction “no later than the first half of 2024.”
JetBlue emerged victorious earlier this year in a battle with Frontier Airlines for the low-cost carrier. Under the terms of the agreement, JetBlue will acquire Spirit for $33.50 per share in cash, including an advance payment of $2.50 per share in cash payable upon approval of the transaction by Spirit shareholders, and a tic-tac fee of 10 cents per month beginning January 2023. through closing.
A possible hurdle in the road to regulatory approval is JetBlue’s Northeast alliance with American Airlines and the antitrust lawsuit against the partnership, which is currently underway in Boston. Additionally, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressing “serious concerns” about the merger given that “the competitiveness of the airline industry is in freefall” and that the four largest major airlines – American, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines – “control 80% of the domestic market”.
Business intelligence firm Morning Consult conducted an analysis of JetBlue and Spirit customer data and found that 36% of JetBlue travelers said they averaged one or more business trips on any airline in the past the year, while 41% of Spirit travelers do so. About 26% of JetBlue customers and 27% of Spirit customers have traveled business class or first class in the past year.
“What JetBlue really gets out of this is an expansion of its geographic footprint in the United States and its territories,” Morning Consult technical analyst Jordan Marlatt told BTN. “In terms of business travel, JetBlue is expanding its access to many new airports and routes.”
Marlatt noted that, unsurprisingly, more JetBlue customers live in the northeast, where the carrier is based, while Spirit customers tend to overindex in the south.
Additionally, the low-cost aspect that Spirit brings to the table could help JetBlue attract companies that are more wary of spending on business travel, especially for shorter trips, he said.
The Morning Consult Brand Intelligence platform tracks everyday consumer attitudes for more than 4,000 brands in over 40 countries. The figures in this analysis are based on daily surveys conducted between January 1 and October 1, 2022, with a minimum sample of 43,463 respondents, including 6,457 JetBlue customers and 5,285 Spirit customers in a total of 273 surveys. Interviews were conducted online in English and Spanish, and data was weighted to approximate a target sample based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, education level, and the region.