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Spirit Airlines Calls Off a Thursday Reckoning on Frontier’s Bid

On the eve of a planned shareholder meeting on an acquisition by Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines said Wednesday evening that it was putting off the vote until July 8.

Spirit said it would continue to talk with both Frontier and a rival suitor, JetBlue.

The Frontier stock-and-cash proposal values Spirit at roughly $2.4 billion, while JetBlue’s competing all-cash offer totals about $3.6 billion.

Spirit and Frontier, both budget airlines, announced a proposal to merge in February. Weeks later, JetBlue countered with its own offer. What followed were rounds of one-upmanship and, at times, bitter words.

Combined, Frontier and Spirit would become the fifth-largest airline, with an 8.2 percent share of the market, putting it behind American, Southwest, Delta and United.

Any acquisition of Spirit would have to pass antitrust scrutiny by federal regulators. Whether the Justice Department looks at a merger’s impact on the airline industry at large, rather than on other low-cost carriers, could be crucial.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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