Spirit Airlines adds 3 routes, new city in latest pandemic-era shakeup
Spirit Airlines isn't taking a breath.
On Wednesday, the Miramar, Florida-based carrier announced another set of new routes, coming just a day after a second big pandemic-era network expansion for the airline.
Beginning on June 24, Spirit is adding a new pin to its route-map, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (MKE), with three new daily flights to Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX) and Orlando (MCO).
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Spirit will bring its competitive, unbundled fares to two markets that are already saturated with low-cost-carrier service. Cirium schedules show that both Frontier and Southwest Airlines fly between Milwaukee and both Las Vegas and Orlando.
There were 575 daily passengers paying an average of $143 headed between MKE and Orlando in 2019, according to Department of Transporation data. Southwest carried nearly 60% of the flyers in the market, so Spirit's clearly betting that it can win some budget-conscious travelers with its $69 introductory fares.
As for Los Angeles, Spirit is slated to become the only carrier to fly the 1,756-mile route between MKE and LAX. Southwest last operated the route in April 2020, before suspending it indefinitely due to the pandemic.
In a recorded interview, John Kirby, Sprit’s vice president of network planning, said that the new Milwaukee flights were a long time coming. Despite some competition, "we're excited to be adding three of the most popular destinations from Milwaukee. If we're successful, we'll add even more. But we think we're going to do really well with this service," Kirby added.
The three new flights are available for purchase immediately. Note that Spirit’s “Bare Fare” doesn’t include a full-sized carry-on, checked bags or seat assignment. All ancillary services are available for an additional upcharge.
Spirit's Milwaukee announcement comes just one day after the carrier unveiled another brand-new destination, Louisville, Kentucky (SDF).
Launching on May 27, Spirit will fly to Louisville's Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) from three of its largest cities, Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Las Vegas (LAS) and Orlando (MCO). The carrier will also launch the nation's only nonstop flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and the largest city in Kentucky.
Related: Everything to know before flying Spirit Airlines
The success of both the Milwaukee and Louisville flights will be bolstered not just by the origin and destination traffic traveling on the new routes, according to Kirby. Spirit's touting its range of one-stop connecting options for outbound travelers headed to other destinations across the country and the Caribbean.
Spirit's move to boost flights to its hubs — or "bases" as it calls them — comes as the major network carriers have been experimenting with a point-to-point network model in recent months.
For instance, late last year, United launched 17 new seasonal Florida routes from cities like Boston and Cleveland, bypassing its eight domestic hubs. JetBlue also made a similar move in September, when it added 24 new routes that push beyond the carrier's traditional focus cities.
Regardless of the underlying strategy, adding new routes during the pandemic has become the "new normal." Airlines are looking to capture as much demand as they can from pandemic-weary travelers looking for a leisure-oriented escape.