By Denny Jacob

Spirit Airlines is pushing back delivery of Airbus aircraft, prompting pilot furloughs later this year, as the airline looks to boost liquidity following its terminated merger with JetBlue last month.

Spirit said Monday its agreement with the European plane maker will defer all aircraft on order for 2025 through 2026 to between 2030 and 2031, which would improve its liquidity by about $340 million over the next two years.

Chief Executive Ted Christie said the amended agreement allows the company to reset as it adjusts to changes in the competitive environment.

The Miramar, Fla.-based company also intends to furlough about 260 pilots effective Sept. 1, due to the aircraft order deferrals as well as the recent grounding of aircraft due to Pratt & GTF engine availability issues. It entered into a compensation agreement with Pratt & Whitney regarding the engines as a result, which it estimates to improve its liquidity between $150 million and $200 million over the term of that agreement.

Spirit noted the deferrals don't include the direct-lease aircraft scheduled for delivery in that period, one each in the second and third quarter of 2025. It also said there are no changes to the aircraft on order with Airbus scheduled to be delivered in 2027 through 2029.

Spirit's financial outlook has come into question over the last year against the backdrop of its terminated merger with JetBlue Airways. The airlines called off the deal after deciding they probably couldn't overcome legal and regulatory hurdles, weeks after a judge ruled the $3.8 billion deal would reduce competition and harm cost-conscious fliers.

Some analysts have predicted Spirit could file for bankruptcy or liquidate in the coming years. Christie during an earnings call last month said it had enough liquidity, while the carrier has said it's exploring ways to refinance debt maturing in the coming years.

Write to Denny Jacob at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-08-24 0833ET