The prolific and bold Spirit Airlines is continuing its expansion push ahead of the busy summer schedule. Using its Airbus A320 fleet, the airline has plenty of growth opportunities and has targeted many different cities across its network – new and existing – for growth. On Tuesday, the airline announced an exciting expansion: LaGuardia’s only transcontinental route.
Spirit Airlines expands out of LaGuardia
Out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Spirit Airlines announced three brand new routes. The airline will add new flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Nashville, Tennessee; and Los Angeles, California. Fort Lauderdale is also getting a boost.
Flights to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will begin on April 17th, 2021. This is a Saturday-only service that will be operated with an Airbus A320ceo.
Starting on May 5th, Spirit will launch daily flights to Nashville International Airport (BNA). This flight will also run with an Airbus A320.
On June 12th, Spirit Airlines will launch a Saturday-only service to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This flight will run with Airbus A320neo aircraft.
Spirit’s LaGuardia operations
Spirit Airlines is growing its Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to New York-LaGuardia (LGA) flights to five flights per day.
The three new additions and expanded FLL service expand the airline’s LaGuardia presence. This includes up to two daily flights to Chicago (ORD), two daily flights to Detroit (DTW), one daily flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW), two daily flights to Myrtle Beach (MYR), up to two daily flights to Orlando (MCO), and up to one daily flight to Tampa (TPA).
As part of the expanded operations, Spirit will run all flights to Fort Lauderdale out of Terminal A. The remaining flights will depart from Terminal C.
John Kirby, Vice President of Network Planning at Spirit, stated the following on the launch of the new routes:
“Our Guests love the convenience LaGuardia Airport provides, and we’re excited about offering even more non-stop options now that we have the opportunity to use both Terminal C and the Marine Air Terminal. We’re grateful for the Port Authority’s long-standing partnership over the past two decades, and I want to personally thank their team for supporting Spirit’s growth.”
LaGuardia is not a major connecting hub for Spirit Airlines, as is emphasized by the terminal split. Spirit cares more about getting passengers to and from New York, which is a massive market.
Temporarily, Spirit will offer a complimentary shuttle service between the two terminals. That shuttle will operate every 15 to 20 minutes and run between 04:00 and 19:00. In addition, Spirit will also offer signage to ensure passengers arrive at the appropriate terminal.
LaGuardia’s only transcontinental flight
A few days ago, Simple Flying wrote about what it would mean if LaGuardia’s perimeter rule was lifted. The airport cannot currently receive any flights from points more than 1,500 miles away from the airport. One exception to this rule is on Saturdays, when the airport can handle flights from more than 1,500 miles away.
This Saturday exception is the reason why Spirit can add flights to Puerto Rico and Los Angeles, though only once per week.
LaGuardia has not been connected nonstop to Los Angeles for over ten years, so Spirit entering the market will be something to watch. The transcontinental market is normally known for intense business competition out of primarily New York–JFK to the coast.
Most carriers prefer to fly daily from JFK than a once-a-week schedule out of LaGuardia. Since Spirit is not at JFK and Newark is already competitive enough, a once-a-week flight out of LaGuardia should be a good one to test the waters and see the appetite for low-cost travel. One thing to watch for sure would be the fares on this route, and how much Spirit charges for its premium product, the “Big Front Seat.”
With the pandemic changing up travel, Spirit is starting to make some moves to target customers who might otherwise not choose Spriit. A new loyalty program should increase engagement between most Spirit fliers and the brand, and it should help some full-service business travelers who typically fly a major US carrier to see some similarities at Spirit and perhaps wish to spend money on the low-cost carrier to gain all the benefits of the lucrative Gold status with the airline.
The New York to Los Angeles market has been noticeably absent of low-cost carriers. If Spirit’s once-a-week flight is a huge success, then it could pave the way for more low-cost transcontinental flights between New York and Los Angeles.
Are you glad to see Spirit hop into the transcontinental market with a once-a-week flight? Let us know in the comments!