Spirit Airlines calls for shareholders to reject JetBlue bid

STORY: The battle for Spirit Airlines got nastier on Thursday, as the low cost carrier urged its shareholders to reject a hostile bid by JetBlue Airlines, saying it was "a cynical attempt to disrupt" its merger with Frontier.

In a statement, the airline said "JetBlue's focus on Spirit appears to be an attempt to distract from the fact that JetBlue's own business is in disarray," adding that its rival's stock price had fallen about 34% since March 29.

JetBlue is locked in a takeover battle for Spirit with Frontier and has argued a deal will help better compete with the "Big Four" U.S. airlines that control nearly 80% of the passenger market.

JetBlue reiterated its argument Thursday that its $30 per share bid is the best offer, saying Frontier’s bid offers less value, more risk and no regulatory commitments.

Shareholders are set to vote on Frontier's cash-and-stock offer, which currently values Spirit at about $20 a share.

Spirit rejected JetBlue's earlier offer, saying it had a low likelihood of winning approval from regulators.

JetBlue, however, called that argument a "red herring," saying Spirit's deal with Frontier faces similar regulatory risk.