JetBlue shares soared nearly 12% Tuesday after reports surfaced that activist investor Carl Icahn scooped up a nearly 10% stake in the airline and said the stock is undervalued.
The billionaire corporate raider amassed the stake in a series of purchases starting on Jan. 26, according to regulatory filings obtained by CNN — a week after a federal judge blocked JetBlue’s planned $3.8 billion acquisition of ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines.
JetBlue and Spirit are appealing the decision, which would have created the nation’s fifth-largest airline.
The Justice Department argued the deal would have reduced the availability of low-priced air tickets.
Icahn paid an average of $3.56 a share for his 33.6 million shares of the stock in multiple transactions between late January and February, according to the filing.
JetBlue shares were at $$6.77 in mid-morning trading, an 11.5% increase from Monday’s close of $6.07.
Despite the surge, JetBlue’s stock is down nearly 20% over the past 12 months.
Icahn’s Securities and Exchange Commission filing said he had plans to continue discussions with the company “regarding the possibility of board representation.”
“We are always open to constructive dialogue with our investors as we continue to execute our plan to enhance value for all of our shareholders and stakeholders,” JetBlue said in a statement to The Post.
The 87-year-old Icahn Enterprises founder has also mulled buying additional shares, according to CNN.
Representatives for Icahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
JetBlue’s pursuit of Spirit was motivated by the need to add the rival’s fleet of planes and pilots in order for the New York-based airline to expand.
JetBlue and Spirit both lost money in 2023 as larger airlines reported stronger profits, though JetBlue has insisted that its recent cost-cutting plans mean it will be “approaching break-even” in 2024.
It also recently announced changes among its C-suite ranks. As of Monday, Joanna Geraghty, formerly the company’s president and chief operating officer, succeeded Robin Hayes as CEO.
JetBlue isn’t the first time Icahn has ventured into the airline industry: The corporate raider took TWA private in the late 1980s, though it didn’t save the now-defunct airline from filing for bankruptcy in 1992.
Icahn was eventually ousted from the airline after a last-ditch effort to regain control of TWA, which went on to be acquired by American Airlines in 2001.