Why Spirit Is The USA’s Fastest Growing Airline
It has been a busy few weeks for Spirit. It celebrated 10 years at Dallas Fort Worth; inaugurated service from St Louis and Louisville; launched Pensacola; celebrated 25 years at Myrtle Beach; and – by far the most important – announced Miami.
But more than this, Spirit has exceeded its pre-coronavirus level of flights. In the third quarter (Q3) of this year, it has almost 68,000 flights planned, based on analyzing data from Cirium, the aviation data company. This is up by 12% over the same period in pre-coronavirus 2019.
The ultra-low-cost-carrier (ULCC) has added more flights in this period (over 7,000) than any other US airline. Of established airlines, Allegiant (+4,300 flights) and Frontier (+2,600) were anywhere close. New entrant Breeze, whose first flight was last month, has some 3,326 flights scheduled in this quarter.
Fort Lauderdale is firmly Spirit’s #1 airport
With more than 9,000 flights, Fort Lauderdale is Spirit’s number-one airport this quarter, as shown below, out of some 80 in its network. This should come as no surprise, as the airport – the US’ 10th fastest-growing this summer – has been its largest for many, many years.
Fort Lauderdale: 9,100 round-trip flights
Las Vegas: 4,900
Los Angeles: 3,100
Myrtle Beach: 2,400
Dallas Fort Worth: 2,300
Houston Intercontinental: 2,200
Chicago O’Hare: 2,000
Orlando has overtaken Las Vegas for the second spot, on account of adding 1,500 flights versus Q3 2019, while Sin City saw cuts. Elsewhere, Myrtle Beach is now seventh, up from 12th, from adding 718 movements. This pushed Baltimore, which was Spirit’s third-largest airport, out of the top-10 to 11th. But it is really all about Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale has grown very strongly
Despite Fort Lauderdale’s existing dominance, it has grown very strongly, with flights up by 40% since Q3 2019. With nearly 2,600 more movements, this one airport is responsible for almost three in ten of the ULCC’s additional flights.
Spirit’s expansion has seen some 11 routes added from Fort Lauderdale versus Q3 ’19, namely Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cap-Haïtien, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Minneapolis, Nashville, and St Louis. Moreover, 22 existing routes have grown by 50%+, notably to Cancun, whose flights have doubled. The focus on leisure destinations, or outbound demand to them, is all too clear to see.
Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta is Spirit’s top route
Spirit has 315 routes this quarter, up from 283 in 2019. Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta is the leading route if measured by total flights, as follows, up from third two years ago. It has replaced Las Vegas-Oakland for the top spot. Now, Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta has 963 flights, equating to around five daily non-stops each way.
Fort-Lauderdale-Atlanta: 963 round-trip flights
Fort Lauderdale-New York La Guardia: 925
Fort Lauderdale-Newark: 774
Orlando-San Juan: 717
Las Vegas-Detroit: 696
Fort Lauderdale-Detroit: 686
Las Vegas-Dallas: 667
Fort Lauderdale-Baltimore: 644
It’s a different picture if seat capacity is considered. Fort Lauderdale to La Guardia would lead, helped by mainly being operated by 228-seat A321s due to slot problems.
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S: Simple Flying
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