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‘Top Gun’ Deal Morphs Into Airlines’ Fiercest M&A Brawl in Years

  • JetBlue boosted bid for Spirit to $33.50 per share on Monday
  • Maneuvering continues with Spirit shareholders to vote June 30
JetBlue Debuts New York-to-London Direct Flights as Low as $202
Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Updated on

Robin Hayes was rousting his advisers within hours of Spirit Airlines Inc.’s February announcement that it would merge with Frontier Airlines. 

The JetBlue Airways Corp. chief executive officer was caught off guard by the tie-up between the two deep discounters, even though it had been speculated for years by analysts and investors. The deal, codenamed Project Top Gun, was presented to the market as fully baked, with Spirit shareholders set to receive a combination of cash and Frontier Group Holdings Inc. shares valued at the time at $2.9 billion.