The South Florida-based ultra-low-cost-carrier Spirit Airlines eyes a huge capacity increase at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. The move will make it the largest international airline operating out of Fort Lauderdale.
Expanding Florida capacity
Spirit Airlines is scheduling additional flights every day from South Florida’s most popular destinations, the airline announced on Tuesday. In all, the airline plans to inaugurate or upgrade the frequency of flights on 16 routes out of Florida. The expansion will include both Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Orlando International Airport (MCO).
“Florida is very important to Spirit Airlines, and we are going to keep growing in the state we call home,” said John Kirby, Vice President of Network Planning for Spirit in a press release. “As the only major airline headquartered in the Sunshine State, Spirit Airlines continues to add new destinations and more non-stop service to meet the needs of Florida’s growing economy.”
The growth from its South Florida hub is part of Spirit Airlines’ aim to expand its overall capacity by 17-19% year-over-year in 2020. The expansion will be realized with the purchase of up to 100 Airbus A320neo aircraft, to which Spirit committed itself in October 2019. 21 of these are already set to arrive this year. The carrier’s all-Airbus fleet currently consists of 144 aircraft, including 20 A320neos.
Nonstop Fort Lauderdale – Oakland
The South Florida-based carrier will add an entirely new service from its Florida hub at Fort Lauderdale to Oakland (OAK), California. Beginning on April 22 it will offer daily departures, making it the only airline to fly nonstop on this cross-country route.
Furthermore, it will expand other domestic routes to Myrtle Beach, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Atlantic City and Detroit. Internationally, Spirit Airlines will add more departures from Fort Lauderdale to Latin America and the Caribbean. These will include two new destinations in Colombia, Guatemala City, San Salvador and St Croix on the U.S. Virgin Islands.
New seats for a new era
In addition to the planned growth, in the race for market share and happy customers, Spirit has unveiled new seats for its aircraft. Presented at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) Expo in Los Angeles last year, these new additions will add two inches of “usable legroom.” They will also feature thicker padding, lumbar support, and bigger tray tables. The dreaded middle seat also gets an additional upgrade, making it 18 inches wide, in comparison to the 17 inches of the window and aisle seats.
Spirit Airlines transitioned to an ultra-low-cost-carrier (ULCC) model in 2007. Today it operates more than 650 flights daily within the US and to Latin America and the Caribbean and has made quite a journey over the recent years. Once it ranked at the bottom of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s on-time performance and customer satisfaction rating. However, it has now risen in the ranks to win Low-Cost Airline of the Year at the CAPA (Centre for Aviation) World Summit in 2019. It was credited for bringing the ULCC model to the U.S. mainstream and having a direct impact on fare classes and passenger choice.