Spirit to enter Miami with 30 routes in major competitive shake-up

Loading...

Load Error

Things are getting really hot in Miami, and it’s not just the temperature.

Spirit Airlines announced on Tuesday that it will start flying to Miami, with a total of 30 routes taking off later this year launching in early October through mid-November. The airline will fly to a slew of domestic and international cities from Florida’s second-busiest airport, without cutting any of its existing service from its nearby hub in Fort Lauderdale.

The move to add Miami comes as the city has seen explosive growth in air service during the pandemic from both the incumbents and other new entrants.

But Spirit’s bombshell announcement is different from any other Miami-focused route-map adjustment we’ve seen recently. With its 30 routes, the airline will instantly become the second-largest carrier in Miami, according to vice president of network planning John Kirby.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

30 new routes to Spirit’s newest city

Though Spirit’s route map has grown steadily throughout the pandemic, Tuesday’s announcement is its biggest single expansion yet.

You’ll find the full list of 30 routes below, but highlights include ten international cities and twenty destinations in the U.S., with most of the routes operating at least daily.

DestinationFlights AvailableStart Date
Atlantic City (ACY)DailyOct. 6
Atlanta (ATL)DailyOct. 6
Baltimore (BWI)DailyOct. 6
Bogota (BOG)DailyOct. 6
Guatemala City (GUA)4x per weekOct. 6
Medellin (MDE)DailyOct. 6
Newark (EWR)DailyOct. 6
Port-au-Prince (PAP)DailyOct. 6
Santo Domingo (SDQ)DailyOct. 6
San Salvador (SAL)3x per weekOct. 7
Barranquilla (BAQ)DailyNov. 17
Boston (BOS)DailyNov. 17
Cali (CLO)DailyNov. 17
Chicago O’Hare (ORD)DailyNov. 17
Cleveland (CLE)DailyNov. 17
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)DailyNov. 17
Denver (DEN)DailyNov. 17
Detroit (DTW)DailyNov. 17
Hartford-Bradley (BDL)DailyNov. 17
Houston Intercontinental (IAH)DailyNov. 17
Las Vegas (LAS)DailyNov. 17
Myrtle Beach (MYR)DailyNov. 17
New York LaGuardia (LGA)2x dailyNov. 17
Orlando (MCO)DailyNov. 17
Philadelphia (PHL)DailyNov. 17
Raleigh-Durham (RDU)DailyNov. 17
San Pedro Sula (SAP)DailyNov. 17
San José, C.R. (SJO)4x per weekNov. 17
San Juan (SJU)DailyNov. 17
St. Thomas (STT)3x per weekNov. 18

As for how Spirit chose these initial routes, Kirby told TPG that it went with some of the largest markets in the region.

“We know the region very well and the customer base because of our large presence in Fort Lauderdale… So it’s a combination of big markets that we’re familiar with as well as smaller, more niche plays that are also markets we’re familiar with,” he said.

Spirit is releasing the list of destinations it intends to serve, along with the commencement dates, as part of the approval process for starting service in Miami. After this public filing, the airport authorities will assess the request and coordinate gate and ticket counter space for Spirit, assuming everything is approved. The airline will announce fares and put the routes on sale at a later date.

Kirby isn’t worried that Spirit will get the short end of the stick, saying that “we expect to get the space we need to operate.”

Spirit’s Miami expansion really hits home

Though the carrier has expanded rapidly throughout the pandemic, this latest route-map shake-up really hits home.

That’s because Spirit already operates a major base in Fort Lauderdale (FLL), just a 30-minute drive from Miami on the rare occasion when traffic is in your favor. Spirit’s Miramar, Florida, headquarters are just a short drive away as well.

Some might wonder if expanding to Miami would put the airline’s massive FLL operation in jeopardy — Spirit is the biggest carrier at FLL with 100 daily departures this July.

Video: United Airlines Buying 15 Supersonic Jets; Could Begin Flying In 2029 (CBS Chicago)

  • a man standing in front of a store

    Chicago Pride History Makers: Art Johnston And Pepe Peña, Founders Of Sidetrack Bar And Advocates For Justice

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • Family Fights To Make Intersection Safer After 'School Of Rock' Star's Death

    Family Fights To Make Intersection Safer After 'School Of Rock' Star's Death

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • a man standing in front of a car

    Terrified Victim Speaks Out After Rash Of Weekend Carjackings

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • text

    Freight Train Blocks Rail Crossing On Southwest Side, Causing Major Delays And Safety Hazard

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • Irika Sargent et al. riding on the back of a truck

    Derailment Disrupts Red, Purple Line Service During Monday Evening Rush

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • Couple Believes Woman Plowed Over Their Front Yard Because Of Criticism Of Alderman

    Couple Believes Woman Plowed Over Their Front Yard Because Of Criticism Of Alderman

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • a man looking at the camera

    Stories 2 Tell: What Happened To The Chicago Mob?

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • a screen shot of Jim Williams in a suit and tie

    Rifle Once Used By Mob Hitman Frank Calabrese Sr. Is Going Up For Sale

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • Carjackers Using Similar Ploy

    Carjackers Using Similar Ploy

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • a man sitting on a stage in front of a computer screen

    Illinois State Budget Includes $788,500 For Violence Prevention In Chicago Neighborhoods

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • Chicago Weather: Rain Continues For The Next Few Days

    Chicago Weather: Rain Continues For The Next Few Days

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • graphical user interface, text, application

    Chicago Company Demands Answers About Checks Stolen From Mail

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • 11-Year-Old Girl From Iowa Stable After Sunday Night Shooting

    11-Year-Old Girl From Iowa Stable After Sunday Night Shooting

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • a blue and white text

    Low COVID Numbers

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • Hope On The Horizon

    Hope On The Horizon

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • a car parked on the side of a road

    2021 Chicago Auto Show Preview: Indiana Avenue To Host Street Festival

    CBS Chicago Logo

    CBS Chicago

  • a man standing in front of a store
    Chicago Pride History Makers: Art Johnston And Pepe Peña, Founders Of Sidetrack Bar And Advocates For Justice
    Art Johnston and José “Pepe” Peña were just two guys who met at a bar and fell in love. The problem was that society had a problem with them. They were gay, and it was shortly before gay men started dying of a strange disease. CBS 2's Brad Edwards has their story.

    CBS Chicago Logo
    CBS Chicago

  • Family Fights To Make Intersection Safer After 'School Of Rock' Star's Death
    Family Fights To Make Intersection Safer After 'School Of Rock' Star's Death
    After onetime child actor Kevin Clark was struck and killed while biking home in Logan Square, his family is fighting to make the intersection where the tragedy happened safer in his name. CBS 2's Marie Saavedra reports.

    CBS Chicago Logo
    CBS Chicago

  • a man standing in front of a car
    Terrified Victim Speaks Out After Rash Of Weekend Carjackings
    From Beverly to Old Town, carjackers are striking fast and furiously – and numbers are on the rise. CBS 2's Jermont Terry reports.

    CBS Chicago Logo
    CBS Chicago

UP NEXT

But downsizing isn’t in the cards, according to Kirby. Adding Miami has been in Spirit’s playbook for “several years,” with the stars only aligning now during the pandemic.

Additionally, he cited the fact that Spirit’s grown its FLL base by about 30 flights during the pandemic, and Miami is “going to compliment what we do in Fort Lauderdale… We actually think we are going to capture more guests by serving both airports.”

To fuel the growth, Spirit will deploy both newly delivered planes — “we’re taking 16 planes this year,” Kirby said — and existing ones that weren’t being used to full capacity due to the pandemic. The carrier will bring crews back from voluntary leaves to “give us the capacity to grow the marketplace,” he said.

It’s not often that an airline enters a market with enough routes to land a spot on its top ten list of airports served.

But, with the addition of 30 new routes — one of the largest market entries in recent memory — Miami suddenly becomes one of the top ten busiest airports in the Spirit network. “Miami, I think will be somewhere, probably tied for eighth through twelfth in our network, somewhere along those lines,” Kirby said.

A fortress hub under assault

Flying from Miami isn’t just about Spirit flexing its presence in South Florida. While that’s a big announcement on its own merit, it also pits the carrier against American Airlines, which has long operated a fortress hub there.

Of the 30 new routes, 28 are already served at least once daily by American Airlines, according to Cirium data. Atlantic City and Myrtle Beach are the only new Spirit markets that AA doesn’t currently serve from Miami.

With its 30 new routes, Spirit will become the second-largest carrier in Miami, both in terms of departures per day and seats per day relative to June 2021 and November 2021 data, according to Kirby.

Despite the splashy entrance, Kirby cautions that this isn’t an offensive against AA, adding that “we view this as offering complimentary service that really allows us to better serve the region.”

He did acknowledge, however, that the market has long been dominated by one major carrier. “The fact that 29 flights gets you the number two position means that obviously, the largest carrier enjoys a very dominant position,” he said.

For its part, AA unveiled a major Miami-focused expansion in February, adding a brand-new long-haul flight, two new route-map pins and increased capacity and frequencies across Latin American and the Caribbean.

In addition to going head-to-head with American on many of its bread-and-butter routes, Spirit will also leapfrog the other domestic airlines that have recently started service there.

During the pandemic, both Southwest and JetBlue made headlines for starting service to Miami, a city they’ve long avoided in favor of nearby Fort Lauderdale due to its lower operating costs.

However, the Miami Airport switched to a preferential-cost model during the pandemic, which has “probably led to the proliferation of new entrants into Miami over the last year,” according to Kirby,

One of Spirit’s biggest ultra-low-cost competitors, Frontier Airlines, already has a sizeable presence in Miami. The Denver-based carrier added Miami to its route map in 2014 and has since classified the city as one of its hubs. Frontier opened a new crew base there last year and now flies to 34 destinations, according to Cirium schedule data.

Finally, Spirit’s splashy entrance brings competitive headwinds to Delta’s planned Miami expansion.

In July 2020, the Atlanta-based carrier doubled down on its proposed pan-American partnership with LATAM that includes a new “gateway hub” in Miami. Delta unveiled plans to add at least 20 new U.S. domestic departures under its proposed joint venture with LATAM, though the timeline remains unclear.

Delta took a 20% stake in LATAM in September 2019, wooing the carrier away from the Oneworld alliance and its former partner, American Airlines.

Altogether, entering Miami isn’t just good for Spirit, its network and its flyers. The move also brings fierce competition to Miami, where American Airlines has grown for years without significant competition.

Now that changes — and the mercury is rising.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: Read Full Article