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A Spirit A320 in New York (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Spirit Airlines Directs Its Attention to St. Louis

The COVID-19 crisis forcefully hindered networking and the ability to seamlessly travel for leisure – two components that highlight and define the airline and travel industry. However, Spirit Airlines – an airline that has evolved and grown its notable, low-cost business model in response to COVID-19’s profound effects, faster than other carriers – revealed its plans to add flight service to a brand new destination its route network to increase connectivity. 

The ultra-low-cost carrier plans to start operating daily flights to St. Louis from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale on May 27. Additionally, Pensacola, Fla. will begin to receive daily flights from Missouri’s notable, major city on June 10. 

“Spirit Airlines comes to The Gateway to the West in a big way with non-stop service to five popular destinations,”  John Kirby, Spirit Airlines, Vice President of Network Planning, said. “Our new St. Louis Guests will love Spirit’s combination of friendly, reliable service and low fares, making it easy for them to plan a vacation or quick getaway.”

St.Louis was once a prominent Midwest hub for American who merged with Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 2001. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2003, American announced massive route cuts for the Gateway to the West, and St. Louis eventually lost the airline’s hub status in 2009. Nonetheless, since then, Southwest has contributed to the airport’s resurgence, which Spirit will soon join the playing field to the extent where passengers will have more options for travel.

“Growing our airline partnerships and offering more destinations is a key part of STL’s strategic plan, and we could not be more proud to bring Spirit Airlines to our city. We look forward to these added flights and the opportunity they bring to our region,”  Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, STL Director, said. 

The Airline’s Redefined Identity

Spirit’s expansion of its route network featuring brand new cities like Milwaukee, Louisville,  followed now by St.Louis and soon Pensacola to connect to its major operating bases, is merely a portion of its progress to adapt and redefine itself during the ongoing predicament. In late-January, the airline unveiled its newly revised frequent flyer mileage program.

The carrier’s loyalty mileage program – known as Free Spirit – experienced a revamp. For instance, mileage will not expire for 12 months compared to the previous time frame of three months for account inactivity. The Miramar, Fla.-based carrier revealed its plans to have now status tiers like other major U.S. carriers such as the big three legacy airlines.

“Points are useless if you have to wait forever to use them,” Bobby Schroeter, Spirit Airlines, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said. “We started with a clean sheet of paper so we could focus on what travelers and their families want, which are points that add up fast and generate rewards just as quickly. We know our Guests want to be able to earn and redeem their points without jumping through hoops,” a strategic philosophy portrayed by the carrier’s decision to evolve itself and revamp its mileage loyalty program to have new benefits and extensions, which the old program did not initially have.

Clearly, Spirit will not be the same ultra-low-cost carrier it was notoriously known for, prior to the ongoing dilemma, but the airline has strategically positioned itself to recapture as much as the remaining market, as travel demand begins to rise for leisure. Spirit has plot itself on a course, and if the airline continues to observe and evaluate its route network, it could redefine itself and increase connectivity to more, new cities that were not even considered.

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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