Why Spirit Is The USA’s Fastest Growing Airline

Spirit is the USA’s fastest-growing airline in the third quarter (July-September) of this year. Flights are up by 12% over the same quarter in 2019, strongly helped by flights from Fort Lauderdale – already its number-one airport – growing by 40%. We look at Spirit’s top-10 airports and routes.

Why Spirit Is The USA’s Fastest Growing Airline
Spirit is the USA’s fastest-growing airline this quarter. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

It has been a busy few weeks for Spirit. It celebrated 10 years at Dallas Fort Worth; inaugurated service from St Louis and Louisville; launched Pensacola; celebrated 25 years at Myrtle Beach; and – by far the most important – announced Miami.

But more than this, Spirit has exceeded its pre-coronavirus level of flights. In the third quarter (Q3) of this year, it has almost 68,000 flights planned, based on analyzing data from Cirium, the aviation data company. This is up by 12% over the same period in pre-coronavirus 2019.

The ultra-low-cost-carrier (ULCC) has added more flights in this period (over 7,000) than any other US airline. Of established airlines, Allegiant (+4,300 flights) and Frontier (+2,600) were anywhere close. New entrant Breeze, whose first flight was last month, has some 3,326 flights scheduled in this quarter.

Why Spirit Is The USA’s Fastest Growing Airline
Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles, Myrtle Beach are up strongly. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

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Fort Lauderdale is firmly Spirit’s #1 airport

With more than 9,000 flights, Fort Lauderdale is Spirit’s number-one airport this quarter, as shown below, out of some 80 in its network. This should come as no surprise, as the airport – the US’ 10th fastest-growing this summer – has been its largest for many, many years.

  1. Fort Lauderdale: 9,100 round-trip flights
  2. Orlando: 6,500
  3. Las Vegas: 4,900
  4. Los Angeles: 3,100
  5. Detroit: 3,000
  6. Atlanta: 2,600
  7. Myrtle Beach: 2,400
  8. Dallas Fort Worth: 2,300
  9. Houston Intercontinental: 2,200
  10. Chicago O’Hare: 2,000

Orlando has overtaken Las Vegas for the second spot, on account of adding 1,500 flights versus Q3 2019, while Sin City saw cuts. Elsewhere, Myrtle Beach is now seventh, up from 12th, from adding 718 movements. This pushed Baltimore, which was Spirit’s third-largest airport, out of the top-10 to 11th. But it is really all about Fort Lauderdale.

Why Spirit Is The USA’s Fastest Growing Airline
It’ll be highly interesting to see what happens when Spirit begins Miami later this year, especially given a lot of route duplication with Fort Lauderdale. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Fort Lauderdale has grown very strongly

Despite Fort Lauderdale’s existing dominance, it has grown very strongly, with flights up by 40% since Q3 2019. With nearly 2,600 more movements, this one airport is responsible for almost three in ten of the ULCC’s additional flights.

Spirit’s expansion has seen some 11 routes added from Fort Lauderdale versus Q3 ’19, namely Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cap-Haïtien, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Minneapolis, Nashville, and St Louis. Moreover, 22 existing routes have grown by 50%+, notably to Cancun, whose flights have doubled. The focus on leisure destinations, or outbound demand to them, is all too clear to see.

Why Spirit Is The USA’s Fastest Growing Airline
Spirit has five non-stops between Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale on this August day. Image: Spirit.com.

Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta is Spirit’s top route

Spirit has 315 routes this quarter, up from 283 in 2019. Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta is the leading route if measured by total flights, as follows, up from third two years ago. It has replaced Las Vegas-Oakland for the top spot. Now, Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta has 963 flights, equating to around five daily non-stops each way.

Why Spirit Is The USA’s Fastest Growing Airline
Spirit has grown Fort Lauderdale flights by 40% this quarter vs. 2019. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.
  1. Fort-Lauderdale-Atlanta: 963 round-trip flights
  2. Fort Lauderdale-New York La Guardia: 925
  3. Fort Lauderdale-Newark: 774
  4. Orlando-Newark: 754
  5. Orlando-Detroit: 732
  6. Orlando-San Juan: 717
  7. Las Vegas-Detroit: 696
  8. Fort Lauderdale-Detroit: 686
  9. Las Vegas-Dallas: 667
  10. Fort Lauderdale-Baltimore: 644

It’s a different picture if seat capacity is considered. Fort Lauderdale to La Guardia would lead, helped by mainly being operated by 228-seat A321s due to slot problems.

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