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Is the third time the charm for JetBlue's takeover of Spirit?

Spirit Airlines has delayed a key vote on its proposed merger with Frontier Airlines for a third time, suggesting that a hostile bid by JetBlue Airways may be gaining support on its board.

Florida-based Spirit postponed the shareholder vote on the Frontier bid to July 15 from July 8, a statement late Thursday said. The move allows the airline to “continue discussions with Frontier and JetBlue.” The delay was first reported by Reuters.

This is the third delay to the shareholder vote, which was originally scheduled for June 10. Experts say Spirit can see the results of before the meeting, suggesting that each postponement means the airline may not like what it sees.

“We are encouraged by our discussions with Spirit,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement Thursday following the delay. He reiterated his view that JetBlue’s offer provides “superior value” to shareholders.

JetBlue is offering nearly $3.8 billion in cash for Spirit, while Frontier is offering a mix of cash and stock that equaled roughly $2.4 billion on June 27, a Raymond James analysis found. Frontier, and Spirit, executives argue that their offer is superior because it gives shareholders the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of the merged airline.

Whichever way the deal goes, the resulting airline would be the fifth largest in the U.S. behind American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. A combined JetBlue-Spirit would move ahead of Alaska Airlines, while a combined Frontier-Spirit would leap both Alaska and JetBlue.

Updated with statement from JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes.

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Tags: frontier airlines, jetblue airways, spirit airlines, spirit takeover

Photo credit: Spirit shareholders will wait another week to vote on a merger with Frontier Airlines. Edward Russell / Skift

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