Spirit Airlines looks for more A320s to fuel growth

Nov 5, 2019

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Spirit Airlines is looking for more Airbus A320 jets to fuel its planned double-digit growth next year.

The South Florida-based ultra-low-cost-carrier wants to lease up to seven more A320s in 2020, a leasing-industry source familiar with the search confirmed to TPG. If Spirit sources all of the aircraft, it would add 28 new jets to its fleet next year.

The airline is scheduled to take delivery of 21 A320neos in 2020, its fleet plan as of Oct. 24 shows.

Spirit spokesman Erik Hofmeyer confirmed that the airline plans to “supplement” aircraft deliveries from its orderbook with additional leased aircraft next year.

Related: Spirit Airlines plans for ‘several new cities’ next year

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. (Photo by Edward Russell/TPG)
A Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. (Photo by Edward Russell/TPG)

The carrier plans to grow capacity by 17-19% year-over-year in 2020, adding “several new cities” to its network, said Spirit chief financial officer Scott Haralson last month. That growth will be fueled by adding aircraft to its fleet.

Spirit operated 136 aircraft, including 62 A320s and 13 A320neos, at the end of September. It plans to fly 145 aircraft by year end.

The airline announced a long-awaited order for up to 150 A320neo family jets in October. The deal, which has yet to be finalized, includes a firm order for 100 A319neo, A320neo and A321neo models, and purchase options for another 50 aircraft. Deliveries of the aircraft are due to begin in 2022 and continue through 2027.

Related: Spirit Airlines commits to buying up to 150 Airbus A320neo family jets

Spirit is one of the fastest-growing ultra-low-cost-carriers in the U.S. It is on track to double in size from 2015 to 2019, growing at a compound annual rate of more than 14%, according to Diio by Cirium schedules. The airline added numerous cities ranging from Austin (AUS) to Newark (EWR) and Sacramento (SMF) to its map over the period, as well as opened new bases including one in Orlando (MCO).

While the carrier has fueled much of this growth through aircraft deliveries from its orderbook, it also has regularly supplemented this with additional leased jets. In the third quarter alone, aircraft advisory shop SkyWorks helped Spirit source and arrange leases for two A320s and 11 A320neos, the firm said in a statement.

Spirit is also investing in an improved customer experience. It plans to roll out its first jet with new seats and a new cabin in December, plans to add inflight wi-fi, and is working on a new loyalty program.

Featured image by Edward Russell/TPG.

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