Spirit CEO on JetBlue offer: 'Stretches any sort of common sense' that DOJ would approve

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Spirit's board has rejected an offer from JetBlue; on Thursday, Spirit CEO Ted Christie discussed the decision with analysts.
Spirit's board has rejected an offer from JetBlue; on Thursday, Spirit CEO Ted Christie discussed the decision with analysts. Photo Credit: Spirit/JetBlue

During its earnings call Thursday to discuss Q1 performance, Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie also reiterated the reasoning behind Spirit's decision to reject JetBlue's $3.6 billion acquisition offer in favor of the smaller offer from Frontier Airlines.

In publicly rejecting JetBlue on Monday, Spirit had said that it did not believe a JetBlue purchase of the company could obtain approval from Justice Department antitrust regulators, especially since the Justice Department has already sued JetBlue and American Airlines to break-up those carriers' Northeast Alliance (NEA) out of Boston and New York.

Christie said Thursday that Spirit is on the record with formal objections to the NEA on competitive grounds, a fact that would have worked against a merger attempt with JetBlue.

"It stretches any sort of common sense that an acquisition of Spirit by JetBlue would be approved by the DOJ while it is suing JetBlue over the NEA," he said.

Christie said discussions with the DOJ over the proposed Frontier-Spirit merger are underway. A vote on the merger by Spirit shareholders could be held as soon as June, he said.

He remains optimistic that all issues with regulators can be resolved during and the sale can close by the end of the year. 

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