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Ultra-low cost carrier Spirit Airlines announced Friday a major expansion at its hub in Orlando (MCO). The airline is adding 11 new routes this fall to destinations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America in what the airline says is one of its biggest spurts of growth ever.

This has been a year of growth for Spirit and brings the operator to 49 daily flights from Orlando. The airline has a large presence in Florida, with Fort Lauderdale (FLL) being its busiest hub. Spirit executives said the expansion in Orlando will put the city on par with its second-biggest hub in Las Vegas (LAS).

The 11 new routes are:

  • Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (BQN): Daily flights launch October 4
  • Bogota, Colombia (BOG): Daily service launches November 8
  • Cartagena, Colombia (CTG): 2x weekly flights launch November 10
  • Guatemala City (GUA): 2x weekly flight launch October 4
  • Medellin, Colombia (MDE): 1x weekly flights launch November 9
  • Panama City, Panama (PTY): 4x weekly flights launch October 4
  • Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ): 4x weekly flights launch October 4, then daily flights commence on November 8
  • San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO): 4x weekly flights launch October 5, then daily flights commence on November 8
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras (SAP): 2x weekly flights launch October 5
  • San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL): 2x weekly flights launch October 6
  • St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (STT): 3x weekly flights launch November 8

“Orlando has always been a key component of our network,” Spirit President Ted Christie told USA Today. “It fits very well into what is core about Spirit. It’s a big leisure destination with plenty of origin and destination demand.”

“Orlando is now one of our largest markets, and we have no plans on stopping our growth,” Spirit CEO Bob Fornaro said in a statement. The executives said that they expect strong traffic from both the destination and origin cities. Spirit already serves all of the destinations from Fort Lauderdale.

Earlier this week, the carrier announced three new domestic flights from Orlando:
  • Asheville, North Carolina (AVL): 3x weekly flights launch September 7, then 4x weekly flight commence on November 8
  • Greensboro, North Carolina (GSO): 3x weekly flights launch September 7, then 4x weekly flight commence on November 8
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (MYR): 2x weekly flights launch November 10

Spirit operates a fleet of all Airbus aircraft, flying only narrow-body A319s, A320s, A320neos, and A321s. It operates a single-cabin configuration, but with four to 10 “Big Front Seats” on all its aircraft featuring 36 inches of legroom in a 2-2 layout.

Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat on its A321. Image by Brian Biros / The Points Guy.

Economy seats are tight, with only 28 inches of pitch. That’s the least amount of legroom among US airlines. Seats are “pre-reclined,” i.e. you won’t be able to adjust the seats angle at all during your flight.

Spirit Airlines coach class on its A321. Image by Brian Biros / The Points Guy.

Although Spirit has a pretty crummy reputation among flyers, TPG himself flew it last year and surprisingly enjoyed his experience. TPG contributor Chris Sloan recently sat down with Spirit’s CEO and President for a far-ranging interview covering everything from the airline’s excessive fees and how it wants to expand in a more competitive marketplace.

H/T: USA Today

Featured image by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

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