MIAMI — Ultra-low-cost-carrier Spirit Airlines is adding routes from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. The newly announced routes come at a time in which the airline is preparing for a wave of aircraft deliveries that will push its fleet to 80 aircraft in 2015.
From Atlanta, Spirit introduced nine new routes to complement an existing five destinations. These include Cleveland (starting 5/7/15), Las Vegas (starting 5/7/15), Orlando (starting 5/7/15), Baltimore/Washington International Airport (starting 6/18/15), Philadelphia (starting 6/18/15), Tampa (starting 6/18/15), Los Angeles (starting 8/20/15), Boston (starting 9/10/15), and Fort Myers (starting 9/10/15). All routes are year-round, except for its seasonal Fort Myers route. All routes will be flown on one of Spirit’s A320 family of aircraft.
“2015 is going to be a blockbuster year for saving money on travel with Spirit Airlines. Spirit’s ultra-low Bare Fares, plus Frill Control, are sure to be a hit with cost-conscious travelers in the Big Peach and the many cities we are linking it to with this new service,” said Mark Kopczak, Spirit’s vice president of network planning, in a statement.
One route of interest announced by Spirit is Atlanta-Los Angeles. This route was monopolized by Delta Air Lines for several years after the merger of AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines. Delta currently operates 10 daily flights on this route, while Southwest Airlines operates three daily. With such little competition on this high-frequency route, direct fares for many years have been extremely high. This will all change with the addition of Spirit Airlines and American Airlines, which are both entering the market in the coming months.
The aggressive growth in Atlanta by Spirit can be attributed to a large void of a true low-cost carrier in the market ever since AirTran was purchased by Southwest. Spirit and Frontier Airlines, two of the largest ultra low-cost airlines in the U.S., have both greatly increased their footprint in the Atlanta market in the last year. For airlines with less than 70 aircraft each, the rapid growth experienced in Atlanta has been unprecedented.
With Southwest Airlines consolidating operations solely in Concourse C, many city-owned Concourse D gates have become available, offering Spirit and Frontier room to grow from their current single-gate setups. Frontier will be moving from gate D5 to gate D9, which will, in turn, bring passengers much closer to the inter-concourse train. Spirit Airlines will be moving its operations away from gate D7, farther away from the train. Spirit will now operate from gates D1 through D3, all former AirTran gates.
From Los Angeles, Spirit will introduce service to Baltimore (starting 7/9/15), Kansas City (starting 7/9/15), and Atlanta (starting 8/20/15). The new destinations will complement nine additional routes operated from LAX. Spirit just recently announced several new routes from LAX in addition to the three above. These include Denver (starting 4/16/15) and Cleveland (starting 4/16/2015).
Spirit Airlines is currently scheduled to take delivery of 15 aircraft in 2015. Of these 15 aircraft, eight will be A320ceos, six will be A321ceos and one will be the A320neo. The airline, which will be one of the first airlines in the world to operate the A320neo, currently has 45 A320neos on order. Spirit currently has a total of 100 aircraft on order.
The ultra-low-cost business model used by Spirit has proved largely successful and has driven the carrier to grow in markets like Atlanta. The a la carte pricing system used by Spirit has drawn its fair share of criticism.
In an interview with Airways last year, Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza discussed the “Spirit Effect.” In the interview, Baldanza said “Because we’re not in the game of trying to steal traffic from anyone. We’re in the game of trying to create new traffic with low fares, and using that to fill our airplanes.”