Miramar based Spirit Airlines announced a massive order for 100 aircraft from the A320neo family yesterday, Wednesday, October 23, 2019. Spirit Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Airbus to take a mix of 50 aircraft from the A320neo family with options for a further 50. This order is on top of an existing order for 55 A320neos.
According to a report in Aeronews, the aircraft from this new order will be delivered through to 2027. The list price for an order of this size is in the vicinity of USD$12 billion. It is also the first order Airbus has taken since the Trump administration slapped a 10% tariff on some of the aircraft Airbus sells to US carriers.
A big boost in capacity for Spirit Airlines
The order, combined with existing orders, represents a big boost in capacity for Spirit Airlines which is on track to have 145 aircraft in the air by the end of 2019. Right now, its fleet is comprised of 30 A321s, 13 A320neos, 64 A320s, and 31 A319s. Spirit Airlines is to receive a further seven A320neos prior to the end of 2019. The airline currently operates in excess of 600 flights daily to some 75 destinations in North American, Latin American and the Caribbean.
In a statement provided to Simple Flying, Spirit Airlines said;
“This new order represents another milestone for Spirit. The additional aircraft will be used to support Spirit’s growth as we add new destinations and expand our network across the U.S, Latin America and the Caribbean.”
The A320 aircraft is the backbone of the Spirit Airlines fleet and is a popular option for low-cost carriers around the world. Over the next two years, Spirit Airlines has a further 48 A320neos scheduled to be delivered. Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer says;
“The Airbus A320 Family has been a strong platform for the remarkable success of Spirit over the past several years. The continuing confidence in the A320 expressed by the airline certainly lifts our spirits, and we look forward to being a part of the Spirit team’s continued growth for many, many years to come.”
Spirit Airlines grows and prospers despite service flaws
Spirit Airlines has been flying in its present incarnation since 1993. It is now the seventh-largest airline in the United States. Like most ultra low cost and low-cost carriers, Spirit Airlines is an airline that polarises people.
Spirit Airlines has had continual run-ins over its advertising, customer service, and additional fees. It is frequently referred to as the worst airline in America. But in 2018, over 29 million people boarded a Spirit Airlines Airbus, suggesting that the high bag fees and less than stellar customer service are outweighed by the attractions of cheap base fares.
Naturally, Spirit Airlines prefers not to focus on the negatives. They have a Guest Initiative program underway to improve the “look and feel” of their aircraft cabins in addition to improving their seats. The new seats will have thicker padding, ergonomically friendly lumbar support and a proper tray table. There will be more legroom. Spirit Airlines says most seats will gain at least an inch of extra legroom “pre-recline.” The dreaded middle seat will also have an extra inch of seat width.
It should be noted that yesterday’s order was a memorandum of understanding. Whilst there is no reason to believe Spirit Airlines will not proceed with the order, an MOU lacks the status of a firm order.
And the announcement was another win for Airbus and further blow for Boeing who were under consideration but in reality, considering Spirit’s existing fleet and Boeing’s current woes, only ever an outside chance.