ORLANDO — Spirit Airlines recently held a media day to cover several announcements and events at Orlando International Airport (MCO).

Covering live from Orlando, Airways took a behind-the-scenes peek at the airline’s preparations for the big announcements that followed, which established MCO as a brand new crew base to join the other five that are spread around the country.

Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, announced that “Spirit’s success over the past 25 years is part of the reason that we as the airport are amazed at the growth.  We are now the busiest airport in the state of Florida with over 46.3 million passengers”.

Brown added that the ULCC “plans to invest more than $5.5 billion in economic impacts than they already have and we are very grateful for that.”

“This demonstrates Spirit’s continued long-term commitment to this community and it’s also a vote of confidence in what we are doing to prepare for the future needs of Central Florida,” he said.

Spirit Airlines CEO, Bob Fornaro, was also present at the ceremony, saying that “Over the past 2 decades, we have served more than 22 million guests right here at Orlando International Airport. Our growth is nowhere near over as our gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America from Orlando becomes a reality.”

Fornaro referred to the new five international services to destinations including Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Colombia, and also mentioned the additional international and domestic services that will be starting in November.

Lania Rittenhouse, VP of Inflight Experience at Spirit Airlines began her remarks by noting “Two years ago, our leadership team came to Orlando and built a world class service training program.” 

Rittenhouse then confirmed to Spirit crew members what she referred to as ‘the worst kept rumor in the Spirit Network,’ “I’m thrilled to announce that Orlando is now the newest crew base for Spirit Airlines”.

Orlando will be joining the five other crew bases around the country, opening on December 1, 2018, with 85 flight attendants and 50 pilots.   

By the end April of 2019, there will be an anticipated 500 flight attendants and 500 pilots based at MCO.

Following the announcement of the crew base, media were invited to join Spirit executives in viewing the progress of the installation of the first WiFi unit in an Airbus A321 aircraft being completed by Sky Aerospace Engineering.

The first aircraft is expected to be returned to the fleet in November following certification flights.

All aircraft in the Spirit fleet are expected to be equipped with WiFi by the end of 2019.

The fitting is being completed by aircraft type with all the Airbus A321s will be completed first, followed by all A320s and finally all A319s.

As new aircraft deliveries occur, they will be fitted with the WiFi units prior to entering revenue service in the fleet.

Following the initial installations, up to 3 aircraft at a time will be processed through the Sky Aerospace Engineering premises at a time.

For the final event of the day, media were invited to experience the departure of the first flight from Orlando International Airport to Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Gate 31 became transformed into a festival environment for the departure of the brand-new flight.

While the festive attitude prevailed, a ceremonial cake cut and distributed and Guatemalan music was piped into the departure lounge.

The ceremonial ribbon was cut by Vicki Jaramillo, Senior Director, Marketing & Air Service Development, Matt Klein; SVP and CCO, Spirit Airlines; and Lania Rittenhouse, VP of Inflight Experience, Spirit Airlines to allow passengers to begin boarding the inaugural flight.