By Alice Seeley

After Spirit Airlines rejected JetBlue’s $3.6 billion offer twice over antitrust issues, JetBlue Airways is now going hostile in its quest to acquire Spirit Airlines. JetBlue is currently appealing directly to Spirit’s shareholders, urging them to reject the $2.9 billion acquisition by Frontier.

On May 16, in a letter addressed to Spirit shareholders, JetBlue urged investors to reject the Frontier deal stating that the deal is “high risk and low value.” The company offered shareholders $30 per share and said it was ready to “negotiate in good faith a consensual transaction at $33, subject to receiving necessary diligence.”

JetBlue CEO, Robin Hayes, wrote, “the Spirit Board failed to provide us the necessary diligence information it had provided Frontier and then summarily rejected our proposal, which addressed its regulatory concerns, without asking us even a single question about it. The Spirit Board based its rejection on unsupportable claims that are easily refuted.”

Hayes stated JetBlue is offering a significant premium in cash, more certainty, and more benefits for all Spirit investors. Helane Becker, an analyst with banking firm Cowen, stated the implied value of a Frontier-Spirit deal “is a fraction of the value of (JetBlue’s) offer” of $30 per share in cash. Either airline deal involving Spirit would create the nation’s fifth-largest airline behind American, Delta, United, and Southwest.

Spirit announced its board would “carefully” review JetBlue’s offer and inform its shareholders of its decision within 10 business days. In addition, it urged shareholders to take no action on the JetBlue offer at this time.

Shareholders of Spirit Airlines are scheduled to vote on June 10 on the Frontier deal, which is favored unanimously by the Spirit board. The cash-and-stock offer was valued at $2.9 billion when announced in February, but Frontier’s shares have dropped 30% since, reducing the deal’s value.