By CBSMiami.com Team

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) – Spirit Airlines has new offer, which could spark a bidding war.

JetBlue Airways wants to buy the airline for about $3.6 billion, breaking up a plan for Spirit to merge with rival budget carrier Frontier Airlines.

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Spirit said Tuesday that its board will evaluate the JetBlue bid and decide what’s best for its shareholders.

JetBlue offered $33 per share in cash, which would be about 40% higher than Frontier would pay for Spirit under terms of a deal announced in February. Frontier’s offer in cash and stock was worth $2.9 billion when it was announced, but Frontier shares have fallen since then, reducing the value to Spirit shareholders.

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Shares of Florida-based Spirit soared 22% after The New York Times first reported the JetBlue bid Tuesday.

A Frontier-Spirit tie-up would combine Frontier’s route map in the western United States with Spirit’s network along the East Coast and the Caribbean. Both are discount airlines that offer rock-bottom fares and make up some of the difference by charging extra for many things that bigger airlines include in the ticket price, including carry-on bags and soft drinks.

JetBlue is not the same kind of so-called ultra-low-cost-carrier. Moreover, Frontier and Spirit are small enough that their deal might not get close scrutiny from antitrust regulators. Those same regulators already weighed in last year to block a much more limited partnership between JetBlue and American Airlines.

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(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBSMiami.com Team