Flight attendants union backs Frontier-Spirit merger
On Tuesday, America’s largest flight attendant union backed Frontier Airlines’ proposal to buy Spirit Airlines after reaching an agreement with Frontier on how to combine cabin crew from the two carriers.
The Flight Attendants Association, which represents crews at both airlines, said the agreement with Frontier covers job, seniority and contract protections.
The union said the agreement prevents Frontier and Spirit from merging their operations until a new contract is ratified by union members. He said no flight attendants could be fired due to route changes that occur during the merger process.
Mergers in the heavily unionized airline industry are often complicated by the difficulty of combining separate work forces, so the deal announced Tuesday could remove a source of potential friction.
Flight attendants at JetBlue Airways, which declared a hostile takeover bid for Spirit on Monday, are represented by the Transport Workers Union. Combining JetBlue and Spirit would be “a complete disaster”, said TWU President John Samuelsen. “JetBlue is a terrible employer that doesn’t care one iota of its workforce and doubling its size would make them twice as bad,” Samuelsen said. “JetBlue cannot properly manage its existing operations, and allowing them to expand significantly would greatly increase the scope of their incompetence.”
In February, Frontier and Spirit announced a stock and cash transaction worth $2.9 billion, but its value declined due to a sharp decline in Frontier’s stock price. JetBlue retaliated in April with a $3.6 billion cash offer, but Spirit’s board rejected it, saying antitrust regulators risked blocking the deal. On Monday, JetBlue launched a $3.2 billion hostile bid.
Spirit shareholders are due to vote on Frontier’s offer on June 10.