Spirit Airlines had a rough 2020, and the airline is more than happy to let the year stay in the past. In 2021, the airline is far more optimistic with plans to ramp up capacity as it expects an increase in travel demand heading into the summer. The airline expects to be at 2019 levels of capacity by midyear 2021. Boosting that amount will be new Airbus A320neo deliveries, which will help Spirit fly 100% of its available capacity taking into account the new deliveries in 2022 and beyond.
Spirit Airlines plans for 2021 capacity increase
Spirit Airlines has now detailed its capacity plans for 2021. In the airline’s fourth-quarter earnings call, executives called attention to the carrier’s strengths amid the ongoing crisis.
In the first quarter of 2021, the airline estimates capacity to be down 17% compared to the first quarter of 2019. January capacity is expected to be down 19%, February around 22%, and March down about 11% compared to the same months in 2019.
Despite this, the airline expects to be back at 2019 capacity levels by midyear, indicating strength heading into the summer. The airline, which relies mostly on leisure-oriented travelers, expects to be toward the front of the pack when returning to 2019 levels and turning a profit again.
New planes coming in this year
Spirit Airlines is still expecting to take new aircraft in 2021. In fact, the airline’s latest fleet plan indicates that the airline is expecting to take 16 new jets in 2021. All of these planes will be Airbus A320neos.
Spirit is targeted one delivery in the first quarter, six in the second quarter, five in the third quarter, and four in the fourth quarter. Keep in mind that aircraft deliveries are fluid, and the timeline on some of these deliveries may shift, either if Spirit decides to defer deliveries or if Airbus hits some issues with getting the planes out.
The Airbus A320neos seat 182 passengers and are the newest planes in the airline’s fleet, with an average fleet age under two years old. Spirit currently has 32 A320neo aircraft in its fleet.
The new planes coming in is part of the reason for Spirit’s hiring of new pilots and flight attendants. The airline is clearly betting on a recovery.
Spirit joins other carriers in preparing for a better summer
One carrier that is a little more confident than Spirit Airlines is Allegiant, which is even planning to increase its capacity this quarter by up to 5.5%. Spirit is a little different than Allegiant, as Spirit has international exposure, for which demand is coming back weaker than domestic flying. Not to mention, Spirit is willing to fly every day of the week, while Allegiant is avoiding Tuesdays entirely.
Nevertheless, getting to 2019 capacity levels in mid-2021 is pretty impressive and represents the airline’s positioning as a leisure-driven low-cost carrier that is taking advantage of the ongoing crisis. As Spirit is already primed for offering low fares at significant capacity, the carrier is getting ready for a summer of success.
Are you glad to see Spirit take new planes and prepare to fly near-2019 capacity in summer 2020? Let us know in the comments!