On October 7th, Spirit Airlines touched down at a brand new airport. With the first flights at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT), Spirit Airlines also continued the tradition of announcing new service when it lands in a city, with a new seasonal route to Myrtle Beach set to launch next year. With the carrier’s entrance into Manchester, which is seemingly proving to be a successful one, this could set up a new growth arc for Spirit, targeting even more cities.
Spirit arrives in Manchester
On Thursday, October 7th, at 16:30 local time, Spirit’s first aircraft arrived in Manchester (MHT). Coming from Fort Lauderdale, the airport greeted the arrival with a water cannon salute. There was a huge celebration at Gate 1 at the airport. Free Spirit vouchers were provided to every inbound Fort Lauderdale passenger and outbound Orlando passenger. These are worth 1,000 points for use on a future Spirit flight.
Spirit first announced Manchester flights in June to four destinations:
- Daily service to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) from October 7th
- Daily service to Orlando International Airport (MCO) from October 7th
- Four weekly services to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers from November 17th
- Three weekly services to Tampa International Airport (TPA) from November 18th
Orlando and Fort Lauderdale launched as planned. Fort Myers and Tampa are still expected to launch as planned. However, a fifth destination will join Spirit’s route network next year.
Starting on April 20th, Spirit will launch daily nonstop services to Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR). The flights will run for the summer season.
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Paying attention to secondary airports
Major airports like Fort Lauderdale, Nashville, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles are already on Spirit’s route map. Aside from some depth, Spirit already has a large amount of schedule breadth to these major cities. While the airline has more room to grow, it is not set up for a hub-and-spoke network, like major network carriers, to support multiple daily flights on many routes.
To continue growing, Spirit has looked at some secondary airports. This includes Manchester, Louisville, Milwaukee, and more. While plenty of smaller cities have been on Spirit’s map for a while, like Richmond, Charleston (West Virginia), and Latrobe, the airline has been intensifying its growth in these markets.
There are plenty of these kinds of markets across the United States that Spirit could turn to. Think of cities like Birmingham, Cincinnati, Madison, Omaha, and more that have strong traffic demand for flights to Florida, which is Spirit’s bread and butter. Several of these destinations, especially those in the upper Midwest, have strong winter and summer demand.
Manchester is an example of the second kind of airport Spirit can look at. Located just about an hour north of Boston by car, it is considered a secondary airport in the area. Though a significant gateway to the state of New Hampshire, it is quite underserved, with flights mostly on regional jets from major carriers and a few flights a day on Southwest.
These kinds of airports are perfect for serving a major metropolitan area, or geographic area, without needing to enter a crowded, expensive, major airport. Or in cases where Spirit already serves that airport, without needing to secure additional infrastructure that may come at a high cost or is unavailable. There are plenty of cities in the US where such airports exist that Spirit could reasonably look at serving.