Spirit Airlines (SAVE) shareholders have approved the $3.8 billion takeover by JetBlue Airways (JBLU) that would create the fifth-largest U.S. carrier.
The vote comes after the two sides initially came to terms on the agreement in late July after a lengthy bidding war. Spirit had previously announced plans to merge with Frontier before JetBlue made a rival bid.
“This is an important step forward on our path to closing a combination that will create the most compelling national low-fare challenger to the dominant U.S. carriers,” Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie said in a news release. “We look forward to continuing our ongoing discussions with regulators as we work toward completing the transaction and delivering value to Team Members, Guests, and stockholders.”
The deal gained support earlier this month, when two advisory firms advised Spirit shareholders to accept JetBlue’s offer.
The new combined airline will have 458 aircraft at its disposal and will be based in Florida. JetBlue executives said the expanded access to Airbus jetliners and pilots will fast-track growth and boost competition.
JetBlue said the combined airline would bring in close to $12 billion a year in revenue. The two airlines have a combined 77 million customers.
The deal still faces antitrust scrutiny. In 2021, the Justice Department sued JetBlue and American Airlines over a similar merger, calling it an anticompetitive move.
In a statement, Spirit said it expects the deal to close “no later than the first half of 2024.”
JetBlue has a market cap of $2.25 billion, while Spirit has a market cap of about $2.16 billion.
As of 11:24 p.m. ET on Wednesday, shares of JetBlue were trading at $6.96, down $0.02, or 0.29%, while shares of Spirit were trading at $19.88, up $0.39, or 2%.