Spirit Airlines is again postponing a shareholder vote on its proposed merger with Frontier Airlines after Frontier’s CEO said in a letter that his airline is “very far” from winning Spirit shareholder approval for the deal.
At issue is competing bid for Spirit from another budget airline, JetBlue, which is offering about $1 billion more. Spirit has said regulators are more likely to block that deal and is advising its shareholders to stick with Colorado’s Frontier.
A vote on the deal had been scheduled for Friday. Spirit said Wednesday that the vote is now scheduled for July 27, two weeks away.
Spirit, based in Miramar, Florida, said it remains committed to the Frontier deal.
Frontier is offering Spirit shareholders $4.13 in cash and about 1.9 shares of Frontier for every share of Spirit. Spirit shareholders would own 48.5% of the combined airline.
JetBlue, based in New York City, is offering $33.50 per share in cash, and up to $34.15 per share — or about $3.7 billion — including a ticking fee to cover a delay in closing the purchase.
Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said in a letter made public Monday that if Spirit’s board changes its mind and supports the JetBlue bid, Frontier would waive its right to match the offer. He said Frontier has already submitted its best and final offer.
Spirit rebuffed JetBlue in April but since that time the two airlines have been holding talks, with JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes saying he was “encouraged by our discussions with Spirit.”
Shares of Frontier Group Holdings Inc. rose nearly 4% before the market open. Spirit’s stock climbed slightly, while shares of JetBlue fell slightly.