The airline America loves to hate continues to expand throughout the country. Spirit Airlines expansion has been one of the largest year over year expansions in the world. They have added a number of routes in the past year. Spirit has also expanded their fleet, from 45 in 2012, to 95 by the end of 2016. The airline has been on a spree of adding routes, and it seems that this expansion will not stop in 2017.
New Routes Launched
Spirit launched a series of flights earlier this months. According to the Motley Fool, many of these routes are meant to compete with legacy airlines. The airline has started creating focus cities in places such as Houston and Baltimore. The schedule, according to Airline Route, is as follows:
- Houston- Seattle: Flies with an A320 1X daily,
- Houston- Newark: Flies with an A320 1X daily,
- Baltimore- Seattle: Flies with A319 seasonally, 1X daily,
- Baltimore- San Diego: Flies with A319 seasonally, 1X daily
- Baltimore- Oakland: Flies with A319 seasonally, 1X daily
- Detroit- Oakland: Flies with A320 seasonally, 1X daily
- Detroit- Seattle: Flies with A319 seasonally, 1X daily
- New Orleans- Baltimore: Flies with A319 1X daily
- New Orleans- Cleveland: Flies with A319 1X daily
- New Orleans- Orlando: Flies with A319 1X daily
- Hartford– Myrtle Beach: Flies with A320 seasonally 4X weekly
- Hartford-Orlando: Flies with A32A 1X daily
- Hartford– Ft. Lauderdale: Flies with A319 1X daily
As you can see, the airline will be launching flights from many of their hubs/focus cities to new destinations, such as Hartford. They are building up their hub at Baltimore, to compete with Southwest. The buildup in Houston competes with United. With the current rate of expansion, we can hope to see the airline entering new markets as the year goes by.
Strategy Changes and Fleet Expansion
Spirit has changed its strategy in recent months. They now want to operate to medium sized cities, not just large cities. From there, they have added cities such as Baltimore, Hartford and New Orleans. Spirit also wants to expand and focus on seasonal services. This makes them a hybrid between a traditional ultra low cost carrier (such as Ryanair) and a holiday ULCC like Allegiant.
The airline also wants to expand its fleet. They currently have 95 planes, but they want to expand to 107 by the end of the year. With this fuel, they plan on continually expanding to different cities and expanding their hubs.
I am an indirect fan of Spirit Airlines. I travelled them once, and I vowed never to travel on them again. However, the airline has been able to push fares lower on the markets they operate. Spirit is consistently rated as one of the worst airlines in the US, but their load factor is still quite high (around 85%). I am happy to see Spirit expand, because it will bring lower fares to different markets. Yet, with the addition of basic economy, we will begin to see other airlines more strongly competing with Spirit. The unfortunate side is that normal economy fares will need to be up-purchased as compared to the current system. We will see if the airline can actually bring lower fares then.
What do you think? Have you flown on Spirit? How was your experience? Are you excited to see Spirit expand to new markets?