MIAMI – Miramar, Florida-based ULCC Spirit Airlines (NK) has announced it is expanding the number of destinations and services in its network, adding routes to St. Louis Lambert (STL), and including Pensacola, Florida (PNS), Louisville (SDF), and Milwaukee (MKE).

As stated in company press release on March 11, NK “plans to start flying on Thursday, May 27, with flights to Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Orlando (MCO), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX) and Pensacola (PNS).”

The plan is to grow the network as leisure travel demand increases in the US domestic market.

Spirit Airlines N678NK Airbus A321. Photo: Miles Aronovitz/Airways

Leisure Travel Seems to be the Key

“The airline continues to seize growth opportunities as demand for air travel increases, having announced new service to Louisville, Milwaukee and Pensacola in the past two weeks. The airline continues to seize that kind of growth opportunity as demand for air travel increases. Last month, the carrier announced an accelerated delivery schedule for new Airbus aircraft joining Spirit’s Fit Fleet™, which is among the youngest in the industry,” the release said.

Travel portal The Points Guy also highlighted the leisure travel as the main reason for Spirit’s expansion.

“By connecting St. Louis with Spirit’s largest cities, the carrier is hoping to capitalize on leisure-focused trips to the theme parks in Orlando or the Las Vegas strip, as well as VFR (visiting friends and relatives) traffic in Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles, the portal stated.

St. Louis is the largest city the airline doesn’t currently fly to, and the move was something natural for Spirit. The airline’s director of network planning Nick Bartolotta was confident the time of adding STL was right. “As we look at cities with similar characteristics to St. Louis, they’ve been rebounding quickly, making us confident that now is the right time to start serving the Gateway to the West,” Bartolotta said.

Spirit Airlines N923NK Airbus A320Neo. Photo: Andrew Henderson/Airways

Spirit Airlines Schedule

As more airlines shift their investments towards leisure markets, PNS has seen a growth on airlines’ schedules toward that airport.

“Schedules show that Pensacola is expected to handle roughly 10% more flights in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the same time period in 2019. Double-digit growth during the pandemic is notable, especially when airlines are slashing monthly operations by nearly 50% compared to 2019,” the report stated.

Here’s a look at NK’s STL timetable:

Fort Lauderdale (FLL)DailyMay 27, 2021
Las Vegas (LAS)DailyMay 27, 2021
Los Angeles (LAX)DailyMay 27, 2021
Orlando (MCO)DailyMay 27, 2021
Pensacola (PNS)DailyJune 10, 2021

Featured image; Spirit Airlines N913NK Airbus A320Neo. Photo: Brad Tisdel/Airways