Spirit Airlines Is Making Big Network Changes To Overcome Its Challenges

Spirit has cut 10 airports from its network in the past year and is focusing on Florida for growth.


Spirit's Network Cuts

Ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines has made significant network changes in the past year, cutting 10 airports from its network. The airports that Spirit has removed from its portfolio include Bucaramanga, Aguadilla, Charleston, Denver, Lima, Los Cabos, Manchester, Monterrey, Ponce, and Puerto Vallarta.

While all airlines remove airports from their networks from time to time, Spirit's network cuts may indicate that the carrier has been facing challenges recently. However, Spirit remains the seventh-largest airline serving the US, based on flights data from OAG.

It's worth noting that network adjustments are a common practice for airlines, as they constantly evaluate and optimize their routes based on various factors such as demand, profitability, and market conditions.

Spirit's Capacity Growth

Despite the network cuts, Spirit has seen some capacity growth recently. From March to May 2024, the airline has increased its capacity by 5% compared to the previous year. While this growth is lower than that of other carriers, it reflects Spirit's more limited capacity growth plan and various operational factors such as grounded aircraft and retirements.

Spirit has placed its bet on Florida as a key growth market. The airline has significantly increased the number of seats for sale in Florida, particularly at its Fort Lauderdale hub. This strategic move is expected to contribute to the airline's overall growth and performance as the summer travel season approaches.

It's important to note that capacity growth can vary among airlines due to different strategies, market positioning, and fleet management decisions. Each carrier has its own approach to managing growth and optimizing profitability.

Spirit's Top Airports

Spirit Airlines operates at 82 airports in its March-May 2024 network, excluding those that were cut from its portfolio. Fort Lauderdale remains Spirit's leading airport, with the highest number of seats for sale. Despite a slight decrease in its network from the airport compared to the previous year, Spirit continues to focus on its strong presence in Fort Lauderdale.

Some notable changes in Spirit's top airports include significant declines in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, where the airline faces strong competition from other carriers such as Frontier. On the other hand, Newark has seen growth in Spirit's operations, including the addition of routes like Boston.

The choice of airports and route optimization is a strategic decision made by airlines to capitalize on certain markets, enhance competitiveness, and drive growth. It allows carriers to align their network with demand patterns and customer preferences.