Adrian Loveridge Column – Keep On Working it
Spirit Airlines, the Miramar (Florida) based leading low cost carrier has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with European based aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, to add 100 aircraft to its fleet by 2027 plus an option to buy an additional 50 planes, at a later date. The airline already operates 500 flights to 67 destinations daily.
In a statement issued by CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Ted Christie, ‘this order represents another milestone for Spirit’ and ‘the additional aircraft will be used to support Spirit’s growth as we add new destinations and expand our network across the US, Latin America and the Caribbean’. The order includes a mixture of Airbus A319, A320 and A321 models. By the end of this year, Spirit already will have a fleet of 145 aircraft and anticipates another 48 will be added during next year and 2021. This despite being particularly hit by the cancelling of 768 flights, because of Hurricane Dorian during September, which cost the company an estimated US$25 million in revenue.
Could Barbados benefit from this proposed expansion without alienating existing airlift from the United States specifically JetBlue and American Airlines?
Our United States visitor numbers have dramatically increased during the last few years after close to a decade of near stagnation, which has largely fuelled recent record arrival numbers.
Is a there destination currently served by Spirit that may offer an attractive new route to Barbados?
Even the smallest aircraft in Spirit’s new order, the A319neo (new engine option) has a passenger capacity of between 110 and 140 seats in two classes with a range of 3,750 (nm) nautical miles, opening up almost infinite pairing possibilities. Maybe a return to Atlanta (1,833 nm) or Dallas (2,353 nm) could be on the cards, or an attempt at Houston (2,222 nm) and maybe attract first time visitors from the long winters of Chicago (2,259 nm) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (2,567 nm).
All quite operationally plausible nonstop in around five hours or less!
New smaller planes with extended range and greater fuel efficiency present the opportunity to grow new markets with direct flights into targeted areas, so surely we can fill at least one 100 plus seat A319 weekly from the cities mentioned?
Caribbean cities currently serviced by Spirit include: Aruba, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Port au Prince, Kingston, Montego Bay, San Juan, St. Maarten, Punta Cana, Santiago, Santo Domingo, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas. We have been blessed to have benefited from the skills and expertise of Petra Roach and her team from the New York office of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. Let us hope that the recent changes in personnel does not in any way diminish that momentum and it will be maintained under new leadership.