Spirit Airlines kicks off 2022 with 3 routes to a brand-new US city

Jan 25, 2022

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Spirit Airlines is building on its strong network growth throughout the pandemic with another new pin — and state — for its route map.

The Miramar, Florida-based airline announced on Tuesday that it’ll land its yellow Airbus jets in Salt Lake City (SLC) for the first time ever on May 26. The airline will fly three routes from the Salt Lake City International Airport, which includes daily service to Los Angeles (LAX) and Orlando (MCO), as well as twice-daily service to Las Vegas (LAS).

The new service marks Spirit’s first time serving the state of Utah, which it hopes will drive traffic from travelers looking for an outdoor-focused adventure and from flyers based in the state’s capital looking for a warm-weather getaway out of the state.

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“We listen to our guests, and they told us they wanted more exciting Western destinations to experience the great outdoors,” John Kirby, Spirit’s vice president of network planning, said in a statement. “We’re also excited to introduce our high-value travel proposition for our new Utah guests,” he added.

Spirit’s entrance is also a milestone moment for the SLC airport, as it’ll become the first domestic carrier to launch service there since the grand opening of the new terminal in September 2020. The new SLC airport is a massive improvement compared to the one it replaced, with modernized finishes, tall ceilings and upgraded concessions, restrooms and waiting areas.

Perhaps most interestingly, Spirit is advertising a pilot hiring event in Salt Lake City on Feb. 8. Pilot shortages have commanded headlines in recent months, leading to network pullbacks and flight cancellations for a number of U.S. airlines. It appears Spirit hasn’t been immune to the issue, as the airline is promoting its new hiring event in the press release.

Salt Lake City isn’t just big news for Spirit’s ever-growing route map; it’s also going to pit the carrier head-to-head against Delta, which is the largest airline at SLC thanks to its hub there.

(Map courtesy of Spirit Airlines)

Delta already operates all three routes that Spirit is starting, and if history is any indication (take a look at Milwaukee, Louisville and St. Louis), Spirit could grow quickly in the market.

Of course, much of Delta’s Salt Lake City traffic is connecting, but Spirit hopes to give Delta a run for its money on an O&D (origin and destination) basis. Additionally, Spirit will compete against American, Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue and Southwest on the routes that it’s adding.

Either way, the airline is likely banking on its ultra-low-cost business model to undercut the competition and drive traffic.

It’s not the only time during the past year that Spirit has expanded to a fortress hub of a major rival. The carrier did just that in October 2021, when it added the first of a whopping 31 routes from Miami (MIA) — a major hub for American Airlines, where it’s by far the biggest player. But Spirit is now the second-largest carrier in the city, increasingly going head-to-head with American.

While Miami was the highlight of Spirit’s 2021 expansion, the airline also landed in seven other new cities last year, including Louisville (SDF), Milwaukee (MKE), Pensacola (PNS), St. Louis (STL), Puerto Vallarta (PVR), Manchester (MHT) and Palmerola International Airport (XPL) in Honduras.

Now, the airline is kicking off 2022 with a western splash, and it’ll be very interesting to follow where else the airline lands this year.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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