JetBlue has inked a deal to buy Spirit Airlines and become the fifth-largest carrier in the United States, in a move that will take one of the top ultra-low-cost carriers off the table for many travellers.
The two sides announced the $3.8-billion deal on Thursday, ending months of back-and-forth. Spirit had also been flirting with Frontier about a deal, but this basically kills that possibility, per NPR.
JetBlue says the two airlines will "come together to create a bigger, better JetBlue," with more than 1,700 daily flights to more than 125 destinations. It also promised to be a "low-fare challenger" to the major four airlines, assuming regulators OK the deal by 2024.
But is that what's happening here?
"JetBlue is going to remain what it has always been: a customer-centric, low-fare alternative to the 'Big Four' airlines," it said.
So what does that mean for your prices?
JetBlue hasn't committed to keeping the ultra-low-cost Spirit model alive. Instead, they claim that overall airfare prices will come down because JetBlue will be able to challenge other carriers in the market.
The airline launched an entire website to explain the deal, including pages dedicated to customers, crewmembers and communities, with a link to a fact sheet on the merger.
A recent press release advises that everything on the site is based on JetBlue's "beliefs and assumptions concerning future events," and it's possible that things may change before the two airlines become one.
Both airlines say they will continue operating independently until the deal closes. They expect that to happen in the first half of 2024.
"For now, nothing changes as we remain independent companies," JetBlue states on the new site. "All tickets and points remain valid, and you can continue to book as you always have."
That means if you've got a Spirit Airlines flight booked or you're thinking about doing so, you shouldn't see any major changes at this point.
As for the future, JetBlue says it will absorb Spirit's aircraft and give them a JetBlue makeover, with more legroom, seat-back screens and a fresh coat of blue paint.
JetBlue also says that each airline's co-brand credit cards will remain separate until the deal closes. At that point, everything — including points — will be folded into JetBlue's system.
So, enjoy Spirit while you can because the ultra-low-cost carrier's days are numbered.