While it may seem curious to talk about growth in the middle of a crisis, there are few airlines as poised for major growth, once the crisis subsides, as Spirit Airlines. Over the last few years, the low-cost carrier has developed its domestic market and become a significant force in the United States.
The airline’s fleet plans
First and foremost, the carrier has plenty of aircraft on order that could be used for growth– which is one of the carrier’s primary motives for acquiring new aircraft. By 2021, in an updated fleet plan, Spirit will have 16 additional aircraft– all Airbus A320neo jets.
After 2021, the airline is expecting 120 aircraft deliveries. Another 51 leases and retirements between 2022 and 2027 will see the carrier reduce those aircraft from its fleet. Regardless, the airline will have an extra 85 planes its fleet than what it has now, accounting for the retirements. The airline recently firmed up an order for 100 A320neos.
Where can Spirit Airlines use those planes?
While the low-cost carrier has significant reach across the United States, there are plenty of markets where Spirit currently does not fly.
We start first and foremost with the largest cities and metropolitan areas in the United States. In the Washington D.C.-area, Spirit Airlines only flies out of Baltimore (BWI). While BWI is a major airport in the DC-area, it is not the perfect substitute for the District of Columbia. The A320 family could easily service either Reagan-National (DCA) or Washington-Dulles (IAD)– depending of course if Spirit can get the slots and gates it needs.
Next up, in the middle of the country, would be St. Louis. This city, known as a big Southwest Airlines base, still has a sizable population that Spirit could provide services to. Even if Southwest Airlines maintains a significant hub there, Spirit’s operating structure will allow it to offer lower fares from the city– albeit with fewer frills.
The Sun Belt
Spirit Airlines is known for giving leisure travelers an incredible opportunity to fly places for cheap. And, for people who want a little upgrade, the carrier also has the “Big Front Seat” which isn’t too far off from the hard product of a domestic first class seat, but without any of the frills.
One of the largest Sun Belt markets that Spirit is not part of is San Antonio. While the airline used to fly out of the city, it has not offered service in years to one of the fastest-growing cities in the US– not just for people moving there, but even as a growing tourist destination.
Other prominent Sun Belt destinations include Charleston, South Carolina, although the airline does fly to Myrtle Beach. In Georgia, there is Savannah, which has seen low-cost growth from Allegiant, but there is plenty of room for another low-cost carrier.
Hawaii is a booming tourist market. Southwest Airlines made big waves when it entered the market last year. Now, there could be opportunities for Spirit to get into the market.
The Airbus A320neos could enable Spirit’s expansion. However, the carrier would likely need to grow out of the West Coast a little more.
Spirit Airlines has a good number of international destinations. There is, however, room for additional expansion. The carrier only flies to two cities in Mexico and none in Canada. While Canada might not be a year-round destination, there would probably be some demand for the airline to run seasonally.
Where would you like to see Spirit Airlines expand? Let us know in the comments!