Spirit Airlines Grows New England Presence Amid Intensifying Competition

Spirit Airlines today announced it was adding new flights to the state of New Hampshire. The first point the airline will serve in the state, Spirit Airlines will connect the state with four routes to Florida starting from October 7th. Part of the airline’s growth plans, the airline’s entrance in Manchester, New Hampshire, will mark the 11th new city announced over the past year and will extend the airline’s presence in New England.

Spirit Airbus A320
Spirit Airlines is adding Manchester to its route network. Photo: Getty Images

Spirit Airlines adds Manchester to its network

Spirit Airlines announced today that it will add Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) to its route network. The airline will add four nonstop routes to Florida:

  • 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

Manchester is the 11th city added to Spirit’s network in the last year and will see new service this fall as the airline grows its fleet with 16 new Airbus A320neo aircraft.

MHT’s new routes on Spirit. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Vice President of Spirit Airlines, Matt Klein, stated the following on new service to MHT:

“We can’t wait to welcome Guests from around Manchester onboard and show them why Spirit is the best value in the sky. We looked closely at what New Hampshire travelers want, and we saw a great opportunity to give them easy access to some great vacation destinations. We look forward to partnering with the community to kick off service, strengthening our local ties and adding more flights in the years to come.”

Spirit Airlines Grows New England Presence Amid Intensifying Competition
Spirit Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Matt Klein. Photo: Spirit Airlines

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu also expressed joy at the airline’s arrival at MHT:

“The residents of New Hampshire have been patiently waiting for a new airline, and we’re excited to announce that Spirit Airlines is coming to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Now’s our time to take advantage of these new routes and low fares and keep New Hampshire dollars in New Hampshire. We look forward to a successful launch and seeing Spirit grow their options from MHT in the future. So shop local—and fly local from MHT!”

Spirit Airlines Grows New England Presence Amid Intensifying Competition
New Hampshire Gov. Sununu was more than excited to speak at today’s event. Photo: Spirit Airlines

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What to know about Manchester-Boston Regional Airport

As the name suggests, Manchester is an alternative area airport to Boston. As the crow flies, the two airports are about 45 miles (~72.5 km) apart. However, the two airports are in different states. Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS) is the main gateway to Massachusetts and far larger than MHT, given its status as a major hub airport.

MHT is often a relatively overlooked airport in the area. It is the busiest commercial airport in New Hampshire, but it only receives a few select services. According to the airport, the following airlines serve MHT:

  • American Airlines with daily flights to Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington-National, and Chicago O’Hare
  • Southwest Airlines with daily flights to Baltimore, Chicago Midway, Orlando, and Tampa
  • United Airlines with daily flights to Washington – Dulles

Not all flights may currently be operating, and some may run on regional jets.

Spirit Airbus A319
Spirit Airlines will be the only ultra-low-cost carrier at MHT. Photo: Getty Images

Getting Spirit to serve MHT is a big deal for the area. Other large players in New England, such as Delta and JetBlue, do not offer service to the airport, leaving customers wanting to fly those carriers to drive over to Boston to catch a flight. Spirit will continue to serve Boston in addition to Manchester.

What is Spirit’s strategy?

Spirit Airlines took a break from expansion in 2020. After the crisis hit, the airline entered into a survival mode, but it did not necessarily give up on its plans to expand across the United States. Now, the airline is back up and running, and it is not willing to back down.

Florida is an essential market for just about every airline operating in the United States, and Spirit Airlines calls the state home. The airline continues to expand its position in the state and even plans to come to Miami International Airport (MIA) this fall. This comes as the airline plots double-digit growth in the third and fourth quarters.

Spirit A321
The recent growth at Spirit Airlines has focused on filling in gaps from its network and making progress after a year of pausing its activities. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

One of the most significant traffic flows in the United States is between the Midwest and New England down to Florida. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Spirit has been expanding in both of those traffic flows, targeting price-sensitive leisure travelers who want to visit a beach, a resort, or head to a theme park.

To that extent, Spirit Airlines also flies to some secondary destinations in the Midwest and New England. For example, it flies to Akron/Canton and Cleveland in Ohio and Pittsburgh and Latrobe in Pennsylvania.

This will further Spirit’s position in New England, which it believes is necessary. For one, the airline still has a lot of room left to grow and work to do on its network.

Spirit also has the added benefit of working to be more relevant to more New England-based travelers. There is no dearth of options for passengers in New Hampshire or Massachusetts to find flights, but a large majority of those options are on established, legacy carriers.

Spirit A320neo
Spirit Airlines is adding these flights as the competition only heats up in New England. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

With the American-JetBlue alliance and Delta’s growing Boston and New York footprints, Spirit Airlines does not want to be left in the dust. It has two options. It can either take the fight to those airlines out of the expensive, large hubs, or it can find alternative, underserved airports and direct its attention there.

So far, the airline appears to be taking a two-pronged strategy, looking both at expanding at major airports like New York (LGA) and looking at smaller airports like MHT. This strategy is also playing out across the country, including in Los Angeles (LAX) and now Miami (MIA).

Are you glad to see Spirit add New Hampshire to its route network? Let us know in the comments!