The airlines say they are appealing the judge’s order, but their merger contract may also soon become void.
“Yesterday, JetBlue Airways informed Spirit Airlines that certain conditions to closing required by the agreement and plan or merger… may not be satisfied” prior to the deal’s expiration date, JetBlue says in a 25 January regulatory notice.
“Accordingly, the merger agreement may be terminable on and after January 28,” the notice says. “JetBlue continues to evaluate its options under the merger agreement.”
But Spirit insists that the agreement should remain in effect.
“Spirit believes there is no basis for terminating the merger agreement,” that airline says in a separate 26 January regulatory filing. “Spirit will continue to abide by all of its obligations under the merger agreement, and it expects JetBlue to do the same.”
Neither New York-based JetBlue nor Miramar, Florida-based Spirit immediately responded to requests for comment.
On 16 January, a US federal judge in Massachusetts agreed with the US Department of Justice that the proposed merger would violate antitrust laws, harming consumers. The judge prohibited the airlines from completing their combination.
Days later, on 19 January, the airlines filed to appeal the ruling.
The merger agreement, rolled out by JetBlue and Spirit in July 2022, called for JetBlue to acquire Spirit for $33.50 per share, or $3.8 billion.
Spirit’s stock price has since cratered, closing on 26 January at $7.22 per share.
It is unclear if the airlines might seek to extend or modify their merger agreement as they appeal the judge’s order.