If JetBlue receives final approval for its $3.8 billion purchase of Spirit, South Florida will lose Spirit's home office.

Broward County's Spirit Airlines on Thursday took the first step toward acquiring JetBlue Airways for $3.8 billion.

If the deal receives regulatory approval from the Justice Department, combining discount airline Spirit with JetBlue would create the fifth-largest U.S. airline.

To satisfy regulators, JetBlue and its Northeastern Alliance plan to divest some of Spirit's holdings and assets at airports it operates in New York and Boston, JetBlue said.

However, Spirit's shareholders must approve the sale to JetBlue, which ultimately requires federal regulatory clearance.

If finally approved, South Florida would lose a major airline headquarters

Spirit's home office is now in Miramar — since Spirit relocated from Detroit in 1999 — and the company continues to build a new corporate campus in Dania Beach.

Spirit said after the sale closes, JetBlue will make an "unreserved commitment" to the airline's employees and will retain the Fort Lauderdale support center.

Pending final regulatory approval, JetBlue and Spirit will continue to operate as separate airlines

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