Frontier Airlines will receive all of Spirit Airlines’ holdings at LaGuardia Airport in New York as part of an agreement with JetBlue Airways ahead of the proposed merger between Spirit and JetBlue. 

The divestiture, which is conditioned on the final closing of the merger, is part of a commitment to ensure the continuation of “ultra-low-cost carrier” access in the state after the merger, according to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes. 

The exact transfer will see Frontier Group take control of six gates at the Marine Air Terminal and 22 takeoff and landing slots, subject to approval by the relevant authorities such as the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. 

Frontier President and CEO Barry Biffle said he was pleased to have made the agreement with JetBlue: “It will enable us to significantly expand our operations at LaGuardia and deliver even more “Low Fares Done Right” to consumers in the greater New York City area.” 

JetBlue’s deal is especially notable due to the fact that Frontier was originally meant to merge with Spirit before that deal was called off in favour of a more valuable deal with JetBlue, worth $3.8bn. 

This merger, which is expected to close in the first half of 2024, will see the airline become the fifth largest in the US with a combined fleet of 458 aircraft serving 77 million customers across 1,700 daily flights. 

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A different JetBlue partnership with American Airlines called the Northeast Alliance, was brought to an end recently by a district court judge who sided with the Department of Justice, which said that the two airlines working together in New York and Boston amounted to a “de factor merger” of their operations in north-east US. 

The Spirit deal also follows a big contract between Frontier and Menzies Aviation, with the latter signing on to provide full ground services leading to an investment into 200 new staff and around $3m of new equipment.