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Spirit puts off a vote on a deal with Frontier so it can keep talking with Frontier and JetBlue.

(Reuters) – Spirit Airlines (NYSE:SAVE) said it will delay a shareholder vote on its $2.4 billion sale to Frontier Group Holdings Inc. that was supposed to happen on Friday so that its board can keep talking with both Frontier and JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU).

Reuters was the first to report on the delay.

Over the past few months, JetBlue and Frontier, led by an important airline investor named Bill Franke, have changed their bids for Spirit several times. They want to create the fifth largest airline in the United States.

The Spirit shareholder vote, which has already been put off twice, is being put off a third time so that Spirit and JetBlue have more time to work out a deal, sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Spirit announced that it will now hold a special meeting on July 15.

In a statement, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said that the company was “encouraged by our talks with Spirit” and “hopes that they now realise that Spirit shareholders have made it clear and overwhelming that they want to make a deal with JetBlue.”

JetBlue made an improved all-cash offer of $3.7 billion last month. According to the sources, Spirit has been hesitant to accept JetBlue’s much better offer because it is worried that antitrust regulators will reject it.

The U.S. Justice Department has already filed a lawsuit against JetBlue because of its deal with American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) in the New York and Boston areas.

There is no guarantee that JetBlue will give Spirit the regulatory assurances it needs to make a deal, and sources say that Frontier, which has already raised its offer, may make a new one.

The Frontier deal will also likely be looked at by antitrust regulators. But Spirit and some analysts say that this deal is more likely to be approved by regulators.

Both bidders see Spirit as a chance to grow their domestic operations and change the U.S. airline industry, which is mostly controlled by four domestic carriers. Either bidder could buy the company at a time when the industry is struggling with a lack of workers and planes.

Spirit had to put off the shareholder vote until July 8 last week. Sources said that it did not have enough shareholders at the time to support the Frontier deal.

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