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Spirit To Close Atlantic City Crew Base

The ultra-low-cost carrier will close one of its crew bases by the end of this year.

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A319 prepares for landing. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

In a not-so-surprising news, Spirit Airlines has announced that it will be closing its crew base at the Atlantic City airport in New Jersey later this year. The airline cites a decrease in daily departures and ongoing aircraft availability challenges. Many Spirit aircraft remain grounded due to Pratt & Whitney engine challenges.

Scheduled flights will continue as planned to and from Atlantic City, but this city will no longer serve as a base for over 150 pilots and flight attendants effective Sept. 1 of this year. Currently, the airline serves destinations in Florida with an average of eight to 10 daily departures from the airport, depending on the season.

Atlantic City International Airport

Spirit had bet on Atlantic City service being appealing to South Jersey residents and, to some extent, people from the Philadelphia area looking for a deal. It currently is the only carrier operating regularly scheduled air service to the airport.

American Airlines offers its bus service to and from Philadelphia’s main airport several times a day. The airport also sees regular charter operations booked by the casinos flying people in from across the region to stay and gamble at the various local casinos in Atlantic City.

The airport is also home to military operations. The Atlantic City National Guard and Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City all call this airport home. It is also home to the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey National Guard. Passengers going through the airport may be able to see the occasional F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Challenges For Spirit

This comes at a time when Spirit is looking to cut costs and survive after the blocked merger with JetBlue. The airline is going to start furloughing pilots in the third quarter of this year in addition to delaying deliveries of Airbus aircraft.

The airline is pushing deliveries until 2030 and 2031 in a move to improve its liquidity. This along with a large compensation payment from Pratt & Whitney over operational issues should help the airline weather the short-term challenges it faces.

However, the airline won’t be out of the woods yet as it needs to reevaluate its business and make adjustments based on changing market conditions.

On the flip side, the bad news for Spirit could be of benefit to other airlines and Airbus. The order book for Airbus A320 family aircraft is fully booked for years to come. Airlines that want to grow are having trouble finding aircraft that would be available relatively soon, and it’s complicating expansion plans.

Boeing had some manufacturing capacity available but given the significant quality failures the manufacturer is battling, it’s unlikely many airlines will be looking at Boeing favorably to fill the gap.

It was recently reported that United is in the market for some narrowbody aircraft, and Airbus is moving mountains to find space in its order books for the airline. There is speculation that the aircraft manufacturer is working with airlines to delay deliveries to be able to accommodate a potential United order.

It’s highly possible that we will see the aircraft deliveries originally allocated to Spirit be snapped up very quickly by other airlines.

Hemal Gosai


  • Hemal Gosai

    Hemal took his first flight at four years old and has been an avgeek since then. When he isn't working as an analyst he's frequently found outside watching planes fly overhead or flying in them. His favorite plane is the 747-8i which Lufthansa thankfully flies to EWR allowing for some great spotting. He firmly believes that the best way to fly between JFK and BOS is via DFW and is always willing to go for that extra elite qualifying mile.

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