Spirit Airlines expands in Florida in bid to be state’s ‘Hometown Airline’
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Spirit Airlines is growing its Florida footprint as it tries to bill itself as “Florida’s Hometown Airline.”
The ultra low-cost carrier touted a raft of schedule enhancements from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO), its two busiest airports in the state.
At Fort Lauderdale, which is home to Spirit’s largest base and near its corporate headquarters, the airline said it’s adding more flights on eight existing routes and adding new service on a ninth: Oakland (OAK). That route, which begins in April, was first announced in January.
Spirit also is bolstering its schedule in Orlando, another key airport for the airline. The carrier will add more flights to eight existing routes there, including to destinations like Atlantic City, New Jersey (ACY); Medellín, Colombia (MDE); Kansas City (MCI); and New York LaGuardia (LGA).
“Florida is very important to Spirit Airlines, and we are going to keep growing in the state we call home,” John Kirby, Spirit’s vice president of network planning said in a statement. “As the only major airline headquartered in the Sunshine State, Spirit Airlines continues to add new destinations and more non-stop service to meet the needs of Florida’s growing economy.”
The first of the increased schedules will begin April 1 and will be phased in across all 16 of the routes by the end of July.
Included in the push is an increased schedule to Latin America and the Caribbean, especially from Fort Lauderdale, where the carrier says the growth “will cement Spirit’s lead as the airport’s largest carrier to the Caribbean and Latin America.”
Spirit is locked in a competitive battle with both Southwest and JetBlue in Fort Lauderdale, where those three carriers combined to account for about two-thirds of the airport’s passenger traffic in 2019. JetBlue carried 23.8% of Fort Lauderdale’s passengers in 2019, according to the airport. That was just ahead of both Spirit (22.8%) and Southwest (19.6%).
Underscoring the competition there, Spirit’s statement about its expanded Florida service called out JetBlue in Fort Lauderdale, saying it had now surpassed that rival there “in terms of available seats” to the Caribbean and Latin America as of January 2020.
About 30 miles south of Fort Lauderdale, American operates a major hub in Miami that is the top U.S. gateway for Latin America flights. Even there, competition is brewing as Delta Air Lines has begun to add a handful of new routes to take advantage of its new pact with former American partner LATAM.
LATAM, South America’s top carrier, had been closely aligned with American until making a surprise move toward Delta after the latter bought an equity stake in the Chile-based company.
Featured photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines.
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