In this Sept. 22, 2019, file photo, Frontier Airlines airliners stand at gates at Denver International Airport. Spirit Airlines announced on Thursday, July 7, 2022, that it would again postpone a vote on the proposed merger with Frontier, a sign that it lacks shareholder support for the merger in the face of a rival bid by JetBlue Airways. Spirit delayed the vote by a week, until July 15. (David Zalubowski, AP Photo, File)

By Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press

Days ahead of a shareholder vote at Spirit Airlines over a proposed buyout by rival budget carrier Frontier, the vote was cancelled for a fourth time due to a lack of support from investors.

Frontier Airlines’ CEO wrote a letter that his airline is “very far” from winning Spirit shareholder approval for the deal.

At issue is competing bid for Spirit from another budget airline, JetBlue, which is offering about $1 billion more for Spirit. Spirit has said regulators are more likely to block that deal and is advising its shareholders to stick with Colorado’s Frontier.

A vote on the deal had been scheduled for Friday. Spirit said Wednesday that the vote is now scheduled for July 27, two weeks away.

Spirit, based in Miramar, Florida, said it remains committed to the Frontier deal.

Frontier is offering Spirit shareholders $4.13 in cash and about 1.9 shares of Frontier for every share of Spirit. Spirit shareholders would own 48.5% of the combined airline.

JetBlue, based in New York City, is offering $33.50 per share in cash, and up to $34.15 per share — or about $3.7 billion — including a ticking fee to cover a delay in closing the purchase.

Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said in a letter made public Monday that if Spirit’s board changes its mind and supports the JetBlue bid, Frontier would waive its right to match the offer. He said Frontier has already submitted its best and final offer.

Spirit rebuffed JetBlue in April but since that time the two airlines have been holding talks, with JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes saying he was “ encouraged by our discussions with Spirit.”

Shares of Spirit, Frontier, JetBlue and all other airlines tumbled at the opening bell on some red-hot inflation numbers released by the U.S. Wednesday.