Mid-year Spirit Airlines announced a big expansion in Miami, an American Airlines hub, becoming the second largest airline there. Traditionally they had stuck with lower-cost Fort Lauderdale.
Now they’re making a run at American’s hub in Philadelphia. They’ve just announced 7 new routes:
|New Orleans (MSY)||Daily||Feb 16|
|Aguadilla (BQN)||4x/week||April 20|
|Nashville (BNA)||Daily||May 11|
|Houston (IAH)||Daily||May 11|
|Punta Cana (PUJ)||4x/week||May 18|
|Montego Bay||3x/week||May 18|
|Oakland (OAK)||Daily||May 18|
They’re also increasing Philadelphia – Cancun service starting April 20, 2022. This is on top of existing service to Atlanta; Dallas – Fort Worth; Detroit; Fort Lauderdale; Fort Myers; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; Myrtle Beach; Orlando; San Juan; and Tampa. In all, Spirit will serve 20 destinations from Philadelphia.
Currently Spirit Airlines is the third largest carrier in Philadelphia, behind American Airlines and Frontier. This move further solidifies the role of ultra-low cost carriers at the airport.
Philadelphia has been American’s primary transatlantic gateway. With reduced transatlantic flying during the pandemic, Philadelphia hasn’t just seem a drop off of travel across the Pond. Many of the domestic flights American operated from Philadelphia served as connections to these no longer viable trips to Europe. And American was slow to bring back Europe service even as the continent re-opened this past summer, keeping widebodies flying domestically and to close-in Latin America instead.
- In December 2019 American Airlines scheduled 10.376 flights to 197 destinations.
- In December 2021 American Airlines has scheduled 7154 flights to 153 destinations, according to schedule data from Cirium Diio Mi.
That’s 31% fewer flights and 44 fewer destinations. With a terminal already matched to ultra-low cost carriers and the allure of its partnership with JetBlue over New York, the role of American’s more marginal hub in Philadelphia will be an interesting question mark to watch.
Currently they envision new Airbus A321XLRs coming into the fleet operating year-round to Europe.
Meanwhile Spirit Airlines had improved their operation before the pandemic, they’ve improved their frequent flyer program, they’re finally adding internet to planes and their Big Front Seat remains one of the best deals in travel. In other words, their summer meltdown notwithstanding, they’ve actually become quite flyable and this expansion is a win for Philadelphia.