Spirit Airlines says expects DOJ decision on JetBlue merger in around 30 days
(Reuters) - Spirit Airlines Inc said on Tuesday it expects U.S. antitrust regulators to decide whether to allow the low-cost carrier to proceed with its $3.8 billion merger with JetBlue Airways Corp in the "next 30 days or so."
"We are now waiting to see whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit to block the deal or allows us to proceed," Spirit CEO Edward Christie said during an investor call.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
JetBlue prevailed in a months-long bidding war for Spirit Airlines after the ultra-low-cost carrier accepted its deal.
The merger is expected to face regulatory hurdles with the combination creating the fifth-largest U.S. airline at a time when high energy prices, a tight labor market and swelling demand for travel have sent airfares soaring.
Concerns about approval for the combined airline was amplified after the DOJ filed a lawsuit last year asking a judge to break up JetBlue's "Northeast Alliance" partnership with American Airlines, arguing it would lead to higher fares for consumers.
Spirit had cited the Justice Department lawsuit as a reason to fear regulators blocking its sale to JetBlue when it was trying to persuade Spirit shareholders to back the deal with Frontier Airlines Holding Inc instead.
JetBlue had acknowledged that the regulatory process could be drawn out and it did not expect the deal to be completed before December 2023.
Spirit's shares were up 1.3% at $19.9 in morning trade after the carrier posted better-than-expected quarterly results on Monday.
(Reporting by Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)