However, if the deal announced Thursday gains regulatory approval, industry experts expect fares will go up.
The combined airline would be based in New York and led by JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes.
“We believe we can uniquely be a solution to the lack of competition in the U.S. airline industry and the continued dominance of the Big Four,” Hayes said in a written statement. “By enabling JetBlue to grow faster, we can go head-to-head with the legacies in more places to lower fares and improve service for everyone. Even combined with Spirit, JetBlue will still be significantly smaller than the Big Four, but we’ll be much better positioned to bring the proven JetBlue Effect to many more routes and locations.”
Nationally, the merger of Spirit and JetBlue would create the nation’s fifth-largest airline with 9% of the market, behind American, United, Delta and Southwest.
The agreement between JetBlue and Spirit comes after several tumultuous months that started in February when Spirit originally announced plans to merger with Denver-based ultra low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines.
JetBlue made a competing offer for Spirit in April, offering more money to shareholders. That sparked a bidding war that ended Wednesday when Spirit and Frontier announced they would abandon their proposed merger.