Spirit adds Memphis to its ever-growing route map with 3 new flights

Dec 14, 2021

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Spirit Airlines continues to grow its route map with new pins throughout the country.

Beginning on April 20, Spirit will commence operations at its newest station in Memphis (MEM).

The carrier will start with three routes, including daily service to Las Vegas (LAS) and Orlando (MCO) launching on April 20, followed by daily service to Los Angeles (LAX) starting on June 8.

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Memphis marks the carrier’s second destination in Tennessee, following its entrance into Nashville (BNA) in 2019. Spirit has been growing throughout the region as well, with service to St. Louis (STL) and Louisville (SDF) both starting earlier this year in May.

In explaining the move to TPG, John Kirby, Spirit’s vice president of network planning told TPG that “Memphis is one of the largest cities we’re still not serving. Geographically, it’s somewhat isolated. It’s not really close to any place that we fly. The closest one is about 200 miles away, Nashville, which is still a 3-1/2 half, 4-hour drive,” he said.

While the news is big for Spirit, it’s perhaps even bigger for Memphis, which hasn’t seen a new carrier in roughly four years, when Air Canada entered the market with service to Toronto in May 2017.

Spirit’s entrance should help lower fares and bring increased competition to a market already filled with ultra-low-cost carriers, including two of Spirit’s biggest competitors, Allegiant and Frontier.

(Map courtesy of Spirit)

Spirit will go head-to-head with Allegiant and Frontier on the Las Vegas route, while Allegiant, Frontier and Southwest all fly from Memphis to Orlando (though Allegiant’s flight lands in Sanford, an alternate airport for the Orlando area).

When the airline commences flights to Los Angeles, it’ll go up against Allegiant, as well as Delta.

Despite the presence of other ultra-low-cost carriers, the average fares in Spirit’s three new markets are actually quite high. Even throughout the pandemic in 2020, the average gross fare to Orlando was $128, to Las Vegas was $137 and to Los Angeles was $187, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data via Cirium.

Spirit will likely try to lower the fares in the market to convince flyers to take to the skies. “In particular, we feel like Orlando is way underserved in the marketplace from Memphis,” Kirby said.

“These three new daily routes indicate that Spirit sees Memphis as a promising market, and we look forward to their continued growth at MEM,” said Pace Cooper, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Board of Commissioners in a statement.

Memphis is the latest new dot for Spirit’s route map. The carrier has been on an expansion spree throughout the pandemic, adding new domestic and international markets throughout the past two years.

Perhaps the biggest move from Spirit came earlier this year when the airline entered Miami with its first of 31 routes, bringing a major competitive shake-up to a city long dominated by American Airlines, the sole fortress hub carrier in the region.

Spirit isn’t resting on its laurels, though. “Our model is you starting with Florida, you go to Vegas, maybe L.A. too, and if Memphis does well out of the gate, it’s likely that we’ll add more service come fall and build it up,” Kirby added.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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