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Travelers are getting new flight options to some warm weather destinations.
Spirit Airlines begins service today from John Glenn Columbus International Airport to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa and Las Vegas.
The low-cost carrier is offering sweepstakes for free tickets to mark its debut.
You can go here to check fares, and be sure to review Spirit's a la carte operating model that focuses on low introductory fares with nearly all services available for a fee.
Columbus is also getting new direct flights on Allegiant Air to Austin, Texas, from Rickenbacker International Airport, starting Friday.
If you prefer John Glenn International, Frontier Airlines is starting service to Austin from that airport on April 8.
Spirit will start flights from Columbus to New Orleans and Myrtle Beach on March 22.
With the new flights, John Glenn International and Rickenbacker provide nearly 160 daily departures to 43 destinations.
A SpiritAirbus A320 takes off from Palm Beach International Airport in February 2017.
Wall Street strongly disapproved when United revealed last month that it will grow capacity 4% to 6% over the next three years.
When Spirit Airlines said Tuesday that it will grow between 22% and 25% this year and 10% more in 2019, the reaction was critical but muted.
Spirit shares closed Tuesday at $40.42, up 1.4%. Shares in every major airline rose between 1% and 3% on Tuesday. In mid-morning trading Wednesday, Spirit shares were up 18 cents. Year-to-date, shares are down about 10%.
“Our concern continues to be that Spirit’s 25%-28% [capacity] growth in 2Q and 3Q sparks a competitive response and prevents the company from seeing the inflection in [second half unit revenue],” Stifel analyst Joseph DeNardi wrote Tuesday.
“We expect SAVE to grow capacity faster than peers,” Corridore wrote Tuesday. “While we expect yield pressure as a result, we think strong demand should limit this pressure.”
Spirit’s model is an industry outlier. Instead of dominating airports, it tries to pick off a small number of passengers who can be lured with a low fare and often, a single daily departure to a Sun Belt destination.
Spirit’s recently announced plans for the Atlantic City, N.J., airport are typical. This year it will resume seasonal Atlanta service in April, with a single daily flight. It will add four weekly flights to New Orleans, and it will continue to offer ten daily flights to six cities: five in Florida plus Myrtle Beach, S.C.
On the Spirit earnings call, CEO Bob Fornaro, an airline industry veteran who will retire at the end of 2018, said Spirit will continue to grow in Fort Lauderdale, its single biggest operation with 27% to 28% of capacity. Orlando, he said, saw the most Spirit growth in 2017 Also, Las Vegas has 17% of summer capacity.
Spirit grew 8% in Houston in 2017, Fornaro said, but in both Chicago and Dallas, the other two cities where it has seen the most pricing pressure, Spirit shrank capacity by about 4%.
“Our plan is to build a diversified route network – [to] stay at a reasonable size in all the key markets,” he said. “We’re not about to build 100 flights in any one of these cities. We’ve got 20 to 30.”
In Newark, Spirit has a single gate: flights to Las Vegas and New Orleans are planned. “If we could get a gate in JFK we’d take one of those as well,” Fornaro said. “We want to be in big cities. Big cities create opportunities.
“The carriers that control the big cities have operating costs more than double ours,” he said. “They typically prove they can’t compete with us without any pain for themselves.”
Spirit sought to raise fares during the summer of 2017, Fornaro said, and “most of the industry was following us.” The strategy “left us exposed for a couple of months,” he said. “We were letting our load factor go down. Going forward, we’re not going to take the same risk.”
Spirit capacity at the end of 2017 was equivalent to about 3.5% of United capacity.
Fornaro emphasized that Spirit has sought to become more reliable in its operations.
“We have some reputational issues,” he said. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people with how good an airline we can run.”
In terms of on-time performance, he said, “We used to be in the bottom: now we’re in the middle and sometimes on top.” The goal, he said, is to have around 80% of flights arrive on time.
Spirit Airlines will add new non-stop flights between Montego Bay and Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland, USA, starting March 22.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett yesterday announced that American low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines will add new non-stop flights between Montego Bay and Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland, USA, starting March 22.
“Montego Bay will be the second international route for Spirit from the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The carrier only started service to Cancún, Mexico last month,” Bartlett said. “This is yet another indication on the heightening demand for Jamaica augurs very well for the tourism growth strategy. We are seeing solid results.”
Delano Seiveright, senior advisor and strategist in the tourism ministry, is elated at news of the additional airlift.
“The news comes after Jamaica last week shattered all visitor arrival records by recording four million combined stopover and cruise tourist arrivals in a year.
“More new flights, more new rooms, closer collaboration with cruise operators, enhancing relationships with non-traditional players like Airbnb and, of course, deepening linkages across entertainment, gastronomy, health and wellness, and other areas are among the lead initiatives being pursued to achieve Bartlett's aggressive tourism growth goals,” Seiveright said.
Spirit currently operates non-stop flights between its Fort Lauderdale, Florida hub and Montego Bay and Kingston.
The airline is an American low-cost carrier headquartered in Florida, and operates scheduled flights throughout the United States and in the Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America, and South America.
The new service comes as Spirit looks to fill out its network, connecting more of the cities it already serves with new non-stop options. Many of the new routes will compete with major rivals at some of their busiest hubs.
Seattle is the biggest winner in the latest Spirit announcement, landing seasonal service to four new destinations. Detroit (seasonal), Las Vegas and Tampa were among Spirit destinations getting two new non-stop options. (Scroll down for the full schedule details on all 11 new routes)
Baltimore/Washington (BWI) also landed two new destinations, including new international service to Jamaica. That would become Spirit’s second international route from BWI, an addition to the carrier's existing service to Cancun, Mexico.
Spirit’s new routes are just the latest in an ongoing expansion effort by the fast-growing “ultra low-cost carrier” (ULCC). Earlier in November, Spirit announced two new cities – Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Va. – would be added to its route map, giving it a total of 62 destinations. And with dozens of new aircraft on order, Spirit’s growth is likely to continue into next decade.
That’s also the case at Frontier Airlines, perhaps Spirit’s main ULCC rival. Like Spirit, it also has been growing rapidly as ULCCs try to undercut their traditional rivals with rock-bottom fares that come with a bevy of add-on fees. Allegiant, another ULCC, also has enjoyed strong growth in recent years and has remained highly profitable as its network has grown.
What remains to be seen with Spirit's latest expansion push is if it provokes fare wars with legacy carriers like its previous expansions have. A number of Spirit's 11 new routes operate from the hubs of major rivals American, Delta, United and Alaska airlines.
Industry observers will watch to see if those airlines move to defend service at their biggest hubs on routes like Dallas/Fort Worth-Seattle, Minneapolis/St. Paul-Seattle or Portland, Ore.-Detroit.
Already, the USA's three biggest airlines -- American, Delta and United -- have added "basic economy" fares to help them battle Spirit and Frontier on such routes.
The latest routes will put Spirit into even more overlapping service with those rivals. Among the competition Spirit will face on its 11 new routes, American has hubs at both Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago O'Hare. Delta operates hubs at Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit and Seattle while United counts Chicago O'Hare and Denver among its hubs. Alaska Airlines operates busy hubs at both Seattle.. And all four of those airlines have a major presence at Los Angeles.
Chicago O’Hare: Daily seasonal service begins April 12.
Dallas/Fort Worth: Daily seasonal service begins April 12.
Fort Lauderdale: Daily seasonal service begins April 12.
Minneapolis/St. Paul: Daily seasonal service begins April 12.
Denver: Daily year-round service begins March 22.
Montego Bay, Jamaica: Daily year-round service begins March 22, pending regulatory approval.
Portland, Ore.: Daily seasonal service begins April 23.
San Diego: Daily seasonal service begins April 23.
Las Vegas: Daily year-round service begins April 12.
Los Angeles: Daily year-round service begins April 12.
Las Vegas: Las Vegas: Daily year-round service begins April 12.
Miami San Juan
Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport
Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport is the main international airport serving Dallas. It is the main hub airport for American Airlines, UPS Airlines and Ameriflight.
It has seven runaways and can handle nearly 65 million passengers every year.
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