Spirit Airlines will not only launch service to Miami, but add 30 new routes starting this autumn. All but one route will represent a direct challenge to American Airlines, setting up a fare war that may not benefit either airline, but will benefit consumers.
Spirit Airlines Announces It Will Service Miami With 30 New Routes
Florida’s “Hometown Airline” (as Spirit refers to itself) already has a sizable presence in the greater Miami area with its Fort Lauderdale hub, but sees an opportunity for growth at Miami International.
Spirit has unveiled 30 new routes, the first nine slated to being on October 6, 2021 and 21 more to follow over the next five weeks. Flights with an asterisk require government approval.
Even with the surge in Miami, Spirit does not intend to reduce its flying out of Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL):
We are the largest airline at FLL, and we intend to stay that way. In fact, we’ll reach 100 departures per day at FLL for the first time in July. The demand is there to support growth throughout South Florida. Our flying out of MIA is in support of continued expansion in the region.
Along with Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), it allows us to give our Guests more options when they travel to and from South Florida. It will not result in a reduction in flying at FLL, which remains our primary gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean along with offering service to dozens of domestic destinations.
Spirit’s Announcement Is A Direct Attack On American Airlines
Spirit’s entrance into the Miami market, including on many American Airlines bread and butter routes, will evoke a fierce response. Of the 30 new routes, American Airlines currently serves 29 of them (97%). The only route in which AA will not compete is Miami – Atlantic City, an airport currently only served by Spirit.
Expect a stinging counterattack with bigger planes, more frequencies, and most importantly to consumers, cheaper prices. American Airlines is not a ultra-low-cost carrier like Spirit, but will compete on price to protect its territory.
In addition to competing on ticket price, I also expect American Airlines to offer promotions like free or reduced price checked bags in order to further distinguish its more inclusive pricing from Spirit’s, even on so-called “basic economy” tickets.
But that will evoke a counter-response from Spirit, perhaps with special Free Spirit promotions for MIA flyers or even new service between Miami and Los Angeles or other profitable cities.
Travel is once again surging in the United States and Spirit’s huge expansion in Miami–even touching Central America and South America–will put the pressure on American Airlines. While flying Spirit is rarely a pleasure (even in the Big Front Seat), cheap Spirit Airlines flights will mean cheap American Airlines flight, a victory for discerning consumers.
Then again, Spirit Airlines markets its “fit fleet” as one of the youngest in the United States which will soon add wireless internet onboard. While American has offered wi-fi for many years, business customers who have grown weary of tired equipment and dispassionate staff may give the yellow planes a try over American. In fact, Spirit is counting on it…
What are your thoughts on Spirit Airlines’ Miami expansion? Will either carrier win or will consumers be the only winners? How will American Airlines respond to this direct attack on its home turf?