“The combination of the two airlines would position JetBlue as the most compelling domestic low-fare competitor to the dominant Big Four US carriers by accelerating JetBlue’s growth,” JetBlue said in its statement.
Spirit said it “will work with its financial and legal advisors to evaluate JetBlue’s proposal and pursue the course of action it determines is in the best interest of Spirit and its shareholders.”
For its part, Frontier defended its offer as the superior deal for passengers and shareholders.
“A combination of Spirit and Frontier will generate $1 billion in annual savings for consumers and offer even more ultra-low fares to more locations across the country, creating America’s most competitive ultra-low fare airline,” Frontier said, adding that the The combination would provide “shareholders with substantial growth potential for the combined company as a result of merger synergies.”
Both Spirit and Frontier operate as what are known in the industry as ultra-low-cost carriers, with very low base fares and additional charges for just about anything else a passenger needs, including even carry-on luggage.
While passengers may like the low fares offered by Spirit and Frontier, they have generally given the airlines low customer satisfaction ratings.
Spirit had by far the highest number of passenger complaints in 2021, with 11.5 complaints per 100,000 passengers, according to statistics from the US Department of Transportation. JetBlue had the second-most complaints on that basis with 6.4, but that was 43% less than the previous year. Frontier had the third most in the industry at 5.8. IN 2020, Frontier had by far the worst complaint rate at 49.3 complaints per 100,000 customers.
“Customers shouldn’t have to choose between a low fare and a great experience, and JetBlue has shown that it’s possible to have both,” said JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes.
Frontier played into that theme, saying that since only 18% of the routes flown by Frontier or Spirit are flown by both airlines, their deal would be much better for competing airlines. He argued that a JetBlue-Spirit combination would reduce competition and result in higher fares.
“It is surprising that JetBlue would consider such a merger at this time given that the Justice Department is currently suing to block its pending alliance with American Airlines,” Frontier said.