The Big Debut: Spirit Airlines Arrives At Miami With A Splash

Spirit Airlines has officially arrived at Miami International Airport (MIA). The carrier’s big debut at the airport comes as the airline continues to grow across Florida – a major leisure hotspot. Designed to complement the carrier’s existing South Florida operations, Spirit will launch flights to nine destinations and grow to 31 destinations by January, with room for even more routes.

The Big Debut: Spirit Airlines Arrives At Miami With A Splash
Spirit Airlines is now officially in Miami. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Spirit Airlines is in Miami

Spirit Airlines’ first arrival at MIA came in from Atlantic City, New Jersey (ACY). Its first departure is scheduled for Port-au-Prince, Haiti (PAP). Spirit will initially launch operations to nine destinations – both domestic and internationally.

The first nine destinations are:

  • Atlantic City (ACY)
  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Baltimore (BWI)
  • Medellin (MDE)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Port-au-Prince (PAP)
  • Santo Domingo (SDQ)

Starting October 7th, Spirit will launch flights to Bogota (BOG) and Guatemala City (GUA) from MIA. This will round out the carrier’s nine destinations from Miami.

The Big Debut: Spirit Airlines Arrives At Miami With A Splash
Spirit’s initial routes from Miami this October. Photo: Spirit Airlines

Initial flights will run from a gate on Concourse J. Come November, Spirit will have access to four gates on Concourse G, which will handle all domestic operations and all international departures. The gate on J will, at this point, be dedicated to international arrivals.

The Big Debut: Spirit Airlines Arrives At Miami With A Splash
Spirit will have access to gates in Concourse G this November. Photo: Spirit Airlines

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Free Spirit Flyaway

To celebrate the much-awaited Miami launch, Spirit Airlines will launch a nationwide promotion called Free Spirit Flyaway. The promotion will see Spirit give away 31 pairs of roundtrip tickets in honor of each of its nonstop routes from Miami.

To participate in the promotion, entrants have to be legal permanent residents of the 50 US states or Washington D.C., excluding residents of Rhode Island and New York. The only requirement to enter is to be a member of the Free Spirit loyalty program, which has no cost to join.

Between now and November 3rd, customers can enter for a chance to win roundtrip tickets for two with complimentary airfare, bags, seat selection, and priority boarding. Winners will get to plan trips from their closest Spirit airport to any destination on the carrier’s route map.

Spirit Airbus A320
Spirit Airlines will be taking on some competition in Miami, but it has confidence in its ability to succeed. Photo: Getty Images

Spirit Airlines will also be running a Status Match Challenge. Passengers with elite status on another airline can earn the equivalent of Free Spirit status for 90 days and the ability to quickly earn Silver or Gold status after that. Gold is Spirit’s top-tier status.

A huge splash in Miami

When all of Spirit’s routes launch in Miami, the carrier will be the second-largest airline at the airport. Already, Spirit is staffing the airport with over 200 new employees and bringing aircraft to the airport. The airline is using the delivery of 16 new Airbus A320neo deliveries this year to power the expansion.

The Big Debut: Spirit Airlines Arrives At Miami With A Splash
Spirit Airlines has come to Miami in the start of a huge expansion. Photo: Spirit Airlines

Spirit’s President and CEO, Ted Christie, stated the following on the launch and associated promotion,

“Launching nonstop flights to 31 destinations right out of the gate in Miami is a huge milestone for us, and we want to share all that excitement with our Guests. We want our Free Spirit Loyalty winners to be able to choose their own destinations because flexibility is what we’re providing in Miami – multiple daily flights that go all over the U.S. and stretch into South America. Combined with our flights from West Palm Beach and our position as the largest carrier in Fort Lauderdale, we’re giving our Guests more options in South Florida than ever.”

After the launch of the nine routes today and tomorrow, the next big expansion in Spirit’s Miami operations is coming on November 17th, when the airline starts flights to:

  • Barranquilla (BAQ)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Cali (CLO)
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
  • Cleveland (CLE)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Hartford (BDL)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Myrtle Beach (MYR)
  • New York LaGuardia (LGA)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Raleigh-Durham (RDU)
  • San Juan (SJU)
  • Tegucigalpa–Palmerola (XPL)
  • San Pedro Sula (SAP) starts on November 18th

Finally, on January 5th, Spirit will launch flights to San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO). On January 6th, it will round out its Miami launch with the inauguration of operations to San Salvador (SAL) and St. Thomas (STT).

The Big Debut: Spirit Airlines Arrives At Miami With A Splash
Spirit’s route network from Miami when all routes launch. Photo: Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines is not abandoning its position in Fort Lauderdale. Located just 20ish miles north of MIA, as the crow flies, Fort Lauderdale is a much larger low-cost hub than Miami. For years, Miami’s cost structure has pushed low-cost carriers to Fort Lauderdale.

However, things have changed in Miami. The cost structure at the airport has significantly improved and makes the launch of lower-cost services possible. For example, Southwest Airlines announced new flights from Miami – and even grew those flights after launch. A similar story happened with JetBlue. Both of those airlines also have a sizable presence in Fort Lauderdale.

Instead, this is about continuing to grow the carrier’s presence in South Florida. Miami is a growing leisure destination – and Spirit even has a shot at capturing some business travel from primarily small- and medium-sized businesses that are more price-sensitive than a large corporation.

The Big Debut: Spirit Airlines Arrives At Miami With A Splash
Spirit is already set up to become Miami’s second-largest airline. Photo: Getty Images

American has responded with service increases from Miami on key routes that it flies that Spirit will be joining. However, this has not deterred Spirit from its plans at the airport. Spirit continues to push for a point-to-point network, so while there may be some natural connections that arise in MIA, that is not the overall goal of Spirit at MIA.

Fort Lauderdale is better set up for such operations because it has a more extensive portfolio of domestic and international routes than MIA. These routes are mostly about getting people to and from Miami, whether they live there or not.

Like Southwest and JetBlue, if Spirit can get the infrastructure in Miami, expect it to grow. It has shown itself more than capable of holding its own in major, competitive markets. Miami is just the next step in the carrier’s ambitious growth plans. While 16 new A320neos will join the fleet in total in 2021, next year, 24 new aircraft will enter the carrier’s fleet, which should be the start of a huge growth spurt. Miami could also be a massive beneficiary of such growth.