Spirit Enters Miami in a Big Way Now That Miami Has Lowered Costs

MIA - Miami, Spirit

It has been rumored for years, but yesterday it became reality. Spirit will start flying from Miami International Airport beginning in October, and by the end of the year, it’ll apparently be the second largest airline at the airport. Yesterday’s announcement cements Miami’s newfound status as a low-cost airline haven. All it had to do was… lower its costs. I’m sure American is thrilled.

Spirit will go into Miami in two tranches with the first 9 daily flights to 10 destinations starting October 6 and the other 20 daily flights to 20 other destinations starting November 17. That means that by Thanksgiving, there will be 29 daily flights to 30 destinations. That is a staggeringly quick ramp-up, but I suppose when you already know the market well thanks to the airline’s Fort Lauderdale home, you can make moves like that quickly.

Here’s what the route map will look like:

Spirit Miami Route Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Every single one of these routes will operate 1x daily except for LaGuardia which goes 2x daily and two splits: One airplane will fly to Guatemala 4x weekly and San Salvador the other three days. Another airplane will fly to San Jose (CR) 4x weekly and St Thomas the other three days.

Whew. This announcement follows an already-torrid pace of growth in the low-cost space for Miami. Here’s a route map:

Frontier, JetBlue, and Southwest Miami Route Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Southwest entered the airport late last year and now has flights to 14 destinations. JetBlue started this year with five destinations. And while Frontier has served the airport since 2014, it has grown massively since the pandemic. In the map above, the green lines are all routes added since the pandemic began.

What on earth is happening here? This is Miami, the airport with the most bloated cost structure thanks to terrible overspending and waste on airport projects over the years. Now, the low-cost airlines are flocking to the airport. This must be thanks to those pigs that I saw flying around the other day.

John Kirby, Spirit’s VP of Network Planning, explained to me that during the pandemic the airport switched from a variable to preferential cost model. Don’t worry about what that means technically. What matters is that it means costs to operate have plummeted for Spirit.

John was hesitant to give me specifics, but he did say this. Historically, it would have been roughly twice as expensive to service Miami per passenger vs. Fort Lauderdale. Now with this model, it’ll only be a couple bucks different. For reference, Fort Lauderdale’s cost per enplanement has been around $7 before the pandemic, but it is expected to be $12 this year.

Does this mean that Spirit is going to pack up and walk away from Fort Lauderdale? No, not at all. In fact, John was clear in saying that Spirit will keep Fort Lauderdale as the primary gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America. Miami will just be another way it can serve South Florida.

The operation in Miami will be set up for origin and destination flying. This is not going to be a hub with connectivity the way that Fort Lauderdale is. Details are a little fuzzy right now, because Miami requires airlines to publicly announce service before assigning gates and ticket counters, but John says they’ve been assured the airport has room for them.

Spirit will be working toward having 5 gates. Where? We’ll find out when Miami decides, but we can narrow things down.

The North Terminal (D gates) is American’s fortress, and I can’t imagine Spirit would have any way to go in there. The South Terminal (H/J gates) is the primary international terminal, and it’s also where Delta operates its meager flying. If Delta follows up on its promise to actually build a Miami hub to feed LATAM, I’ll be curious to see where that goes. Meanwhile the Central Terminal (E/F/G gates) is for the cats and dogs.

F is actually currently under renovation and as I understand it, it’s supposed to be finished in the fourth quarter. As of now, the E gates are for American spillover (and its partners) plus JetBlue and a whole host of other little guys. The G gates are domestic-only and are for Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country, and United. Once F opens up, we’ll see what that means for the shuffle. I’d assume that Spirit will end up either in the new F or E gates… or possibly split between G and somewhere else where it could operate the international flying. But we’ll have to wait and see.

I wondered how much of this was a competitive response. After all, with Frontier, JetBlue, and Southwest all making moves in Miami, there’s now plenty of data in the market for Spirit to decide if that was a good move or not. John said that it was useful to have that information, but ultimately this was a decision about costs. Spirit has talked about going into Miami for years, but it’s only now that the costs have been low enough to justify it.

Going forward, Spirit will plan on using Miami as a complement to Fort Lauderdale. Some destinations will get service from both airports, and John gave the example of Chicago. Is it better to serve Chicago 4x daily from Fort Lauderdale or keep it at 3x and then start 1x from Miami? Chicago starts on November 17, so you can see how that decision panned out. That being said, there could be some places that get service from only one of the airports. It will all depend on what the passenger flows demand.

In the end, this is going to make things very interesting in Miami, moreso than they already were. American will remain the 800 lb gorilla with big frequency in a huge number of markets, but these low-cost carriers are going to give American a headache. If anyone wants to see an example of what lowering airport costs can do, you need to look no further.

56 comments on “Spirit Enters Miami in a Big Way Now That Miami Has Lowered Costs

  1. A very brazen move by Spirit. As noted, American is now under assault in MIA by the sum total of Spirit, Frontier and, to a lesser degree, Southwest. Question: How will all this growth in MIA affect Delta’s previously stated plans for growth there not only for its domestic network, but also for the LATAM codeshare? Can Delta do what it wants to do strictly from Terminal H? Also, with so much ULCC and LCC competition entering the market, will Delta only add frequency to its fortress hubs or try something different? I know all these questions are purely speculative, but what is your take on Delta’s future in MIA in the wake of the pandemic and this sudden low-cost invasion?

    1. You weren’t asking me, but I think DL has to decide which corner(s) they want to fight. NYC? MIA? LAX? SEA? The Heartland? Obviously all very different markets/dynamics, but the worst thing they could do is go half-a$$ed into any of them. At the same time, there is only so much metal to be flown.

      As for MIA specifically, I think there’s too much of a network hole there to ignore. Not sure how it will play out with LATAM, but I think that rsurvives in some form.

    2. I think the LATAM codeshare still works because neither Frontier nor Spirit have the aircraft to reach deep into Brazil, Argentina or Chile. This could change once the extended range 321s are available though. Perhaps the thought of spending 5+ hours wedged into a seat with a 28″ pitch and no entertainment option will still provide AA/LATAM/DELTA an advantage on these longer routes.

      I think AA has the most to lose as average fares to the destinations served by Frontier and Spirit must drop. They can no longer get away with charging a $600 fare to a nearby Caribbean island.

      1. As an aside, at least Frontier has 30-32″ pitch in back on their 321s. Betting Spirit does the same if they ever take LRs/XLRs. And both are going back to having real tray tables. So once my matched F9 elite status expires I might actually consider sitting somewhere other than Stretch on them, as it’s not just a 28″ torture chamber.

        1. LOL, if past performance is any indicator, I would not take that bet!

    3. SawTheMasters – It’s a really good question. I certainly don’t know the answer, but I do have thoughts. This certainly isn’t good news for Delta, that seems clear. If nothing else, it will make it harder to Delta to acquire enough gate space to actually build the feed it promised to LATAM.
      But does it also make Delta’s plan less viable? Maybe. The reality is that Delta was going to try to build an operation that, outside of the flights to Delta hubs, was meant to feed LATAM. This shouldn’t change that, but what it does do is lower the likely fare Delta could attract for any local traffic it was going to luck into. I just don’t know how much local traffic Delta was counting on.

      While this isn’t great news for American, there will always be a place for a big hub airline in Miami and that airline is American. There wasn’t really a good place for Delta before, but this makes it at least marginally less attractive and somewhat more difficult for the airline.

  2. MIA clearly decided that they cannot afford to be reliant on AA which for years has had a nearly complete US monopoly to Latin America and the vast majority of domestic service as well. NK’s move is just the latest in a massive influx of low cost carriers into MIA that will destabilize AA’s MIA hub even as it tries to rebuild post pandemic. MIA missed the list of AA’s most profitable hubs of DCA, CLT and DFW per its execs and DOT data shows that fares to the Caribbean and northern Latin America have been under pressure for years because of the FLL ops of B6, NK and WN. NK’s buildup is half international, mostly to VFR and leisure markets with low frequency domestic routes. AA does fly most of those int’l markets multiple times per day but not near as often as many domestic routes. The sheer number of markets which have seen new low cost carrier growth from MIA is certain to make it near impossible for AA not to lose enormous share and for fares to be permanently lowered. The fact that NK and other carriers say they are not walking away from their positions at FLL will make it even harder for AA to hold onto its position in S. Florida which will fall just as it has in NYC and the west coast. Considering all of the competitive challenges AA faces, they have some enormous strategic decisions to make about what parts of their network they want to defend since they still haven’t totally cut any hubs post-merger.
    As for Delta’s MIA aspirations, it is still the 2nd largest domestic carrier at MIA, doesn’t fly south from MIA, flies multiple times/day to the markets it does serve which are its hubs and focus cities, and not all of those are served from MIA. The ULCCs and WN serve different market segments from MIA and are not likely to change what DL does in MIA. Unlike AA which is a hub carrier and has to battle everyone in all markets, DL is in a very different position of picking and choosing what makes sense for DL and for its international partnerships.

    1. Ahhh, yes.
      The usual Tim Dunn view: Delta isn’t impacted but AA might as well pack up and move out of South Florida.

      1. except I didn’t say that and the principle would be no different it would be if there were 3 major low cost/ultra low cost carrier expansions in ANY legacy carrier’s hub city.
        And Delta capacity is up in MIA, as it is for just about every domestic carrier. That is not true in most other legacy carrier hub cities.

    2. And there you go for anyone looking forward to some classic anti-AA drivel. Lol!!

      Yeah an NK expansion will dislodge the largest carrier at MIA but somehow magically facilitate an expansion of LA/DL at MiA. When it has been clear during the pandemic that LA cannot even sustain 1x daily on routes to most of its hub, while AA kills them with 3-4x daily. Makes so much sense, right?

    3. Face it, Tim: DL let the pandemic take their eye off the ball at MIA and now they’re paying for it. As far as logistics and demand space are concerned, there’s little room for Delta to grow MIA anytime soon. Others have been more aggressive at grabbing that real estate. They missed the opportunity. And, I should add that LATAM is far from healthy right now (you know, being in bankruptcy and all). So, you have a struggling Latin American airline that now depends on feed from an airline that can’t properly serve their main US gateway. And Spirit just took more of the space and domestic market share they needed to make this happen in any significant way.

      Face it: MIA isn’t going well for DL.

  3. Definitely a competitive hit for AA, but also DL I think. And not just their MIA LATAM hub aspirations, but this just another in a steady stream of announcements of new point-to-point service from Florida to the rest of the US bypassing both ATL and CLT hubs (Spirit, SWA, Frontier, Avelo, Breeze, JetBlue, Allegiant, even United). I’ve got think DL will see the impact on their pricing power connecting Florida through ATL, especially as all these airlines keep adding new planes and new service.

    1. Except that
      – Even by your own argument, AA competes in ALL of the newly competitive nonstop PLUS connecting markets while DL, UA and WN all compete just to their hubs/focus cities/bases
      – While future capacity is always subject to change, AA is smaller now to DL’s big 4 hubs than it was in June 2019
      – There is an overall trend of faster growth at MIA vs. FLL and PBI which reduces AA’s dominance in S. Florida.
      – Much of AA’s MIA capacity additions have been in MIA to NYC, LAX and BOS where B6 has grown as part of the “partnership.” Fares have dropped rapidly and unsustainably in those markets. AA can’t do the same thing in dozens of other markets.
      – The percentage of additional capacity from MIA to VFR Latin America and Caribbean markets will be much higher than it is to any other carrier’s domestic markets.
      – Because MIA has preferential use gates, there might be a rush for carriers to announce service in order to secure gate access but that will come at the cost of AA’s share and pricing.
      – The greatest opportunity for other airlines will be in other pre-covid AA strength markets esp. those where AA has not returned capacity. AA has to choose what it wants to defend with all of the growth in its key markets.
      – Pre-covid, AA had a higher percentage of local market revenue in MIA than either DL or UA had in their hubs except for UA in EWR which explains B6’ growth there. MIA airport’s decision to change its fee structure and the growth of LCCs and ULCCs is AA’s strategic challenge and everyone else’s opportunity.

      1. Yep, AA is definitely more in the crosshairs here than DL, although I think this is yet another DL aspirational focus airport where DL will have to reign in ambitions after new service from others (like BNA, SJC, CVG, RDU, and especially AUS).

        After all this new service gets added, I’m very curious to see DL’s Florida seat share pre- vs. post-pandemic. Might be a fun topic for a future post Cranky?…

        1. Yeah, AA has expanded significantly here (AUS) point-to-point, such that I wouldn’t be surprised if AA+B6+AS+BA wind up within 1-2% of WN’s market share here once AA’s new routes are all live and BA’s flight kicks back in. While I like Delta, these expansions provide them with few dots on the map to expand to, even if they only have to fill up an A220-100. With that said, DL has succeeded in pushing UA to #4 for passenger share here.

          I feel like the MIA (U)LCC expansions similarly edge DL out from adding significant dots on the map. Sure, they may be able to keep the destinations they’re in now, but…that might be it. Interesting that the focus city shoe is on the other foot at this point; DL has retreated to hubs, while AA is doing the opposite.

        2. Tory (and others) – I really don’t think this is about AA as much. This is about Spirit already having a large presence in South Florida but realizing that it needed to be in Miami to maintain that. Spirit has seen the value of going into Miami for years, but the combination of lower costs and other low cost guys moving into Miami meant that it was a no-brainer. If it didn’t, it would risk losing more FLL fliers to other airlines like Frontier in Miami. In the most obvious sense, this is bad for American.
          More seats, lower fares… it’s not what you want to see. But on the other hand, you do have to wonder if this becomes the final nail in the coffin of Delta’s so-far-unfulfilled focus city in Miami. Does it make it harder to justify building up an operation there? If that’s the case, this could perversely benefit American.

          1. The reason NK is expanding to MIA is the same reason AA and DL serve all 3 NYC airports and UA finally moved to redo the same; each airport is its own market.
            AA has had a near monopoly at MIA and that is being eroded faster than in any other legacy carrier hub.
            The significance of NK and the ULCCs at MIA is their expansion into Latin America markets that DL UA and WN or any other US airline do not serve.
            DL has never said that MIA was going to be a focus city. They alluded to 20 cities to be served as part of their DL-Latam joint venture application; that is the only public statement I have seen about any size DL planned for MIA.
            But the real issue is that some people think there is a threat to DL’s FUTURE plans – based on their own guesses about DL in MIA – compared to AA’s ACTUAL MIA operation and announced competitive flights.
            DL has already filed schedules for Jan 22 at 28 flights/day, as much as they served in the US; they have dropped their single HAV flight. Their schedule is all mainline except for RDU but ASMs are up 8.5%. They have not refiled their pre-covid RJ intra-Florida operation. If they have filed schedules, they have asked for gates for those flights – which is still the 2nd largest domestic operation from MIA. And DL doesn’t slash fares to fill planes as ULCCs and WN do.

            1. Tim – Are you seriously suggesting that having 20 cities served from Miami wouldn’t qualify it as a focus city? Delta has already very clearly stated that it doesn’t have a definition of what a focus city is, but it means getting some level of extra attention and effort. That is what Delta promised LATAM, and I would assume it is still expected. But expanding into non-DL hub cities will be tougher to justify with more and more competition. It was already a weak premise beforehand.

              Looking at a January 2022 schedule is laughable at this point. That is a placeholder schedule for all airlines, and it remains to be seen what will actually be flown. There will be changes between now and then, so I wouldn’t hang my hat on that.

            2. CF,
              We’d first have to figure out what a focus city for DL really is. CVG and RDU both have DL service to 17 cities as of this month, both excluding CDG but CVG is no longer a focus city while RDU is. Both have far more service than AUS and BNA ever have.
              Of course future schedules may not materialize but if they are published, DL is in a position to ask for gates so the notion that DL will be shut out based on 28 flights/day to 7 cities doesn’t really make sense.
              And DL could easily add 4 more cities and ten more flights/day to support Latin America if they feel gates are at risk. And then there are a couple more strategic cities that also happen to be DL hubs/focus cities that DL could add.
              But, again, DL isn’t even really the issue here. It looks like NK and F9 combined won’t have more domestic service than DL and DL doesn’t drive fares down but those two do. And those two are flying destinations to the Caribbean and VFR Latin America that no other carrier has flown from MIA for years.

              And to those that think that AA has the capacity to fund a massive retaliation in MIA, you need only look at their capacity guidance, schedules, and fleet status and deliveries. AA doesn’t have the fleet and certainly not the financial ability to add capacity to dozens of markets as they have with MIA-JFK/LGA/BOS/LAX with the corresponding reductions in average fares which far exceed AA’s system or its MIA hub.
              JayB,
              Cranky introduced DL into the discussion in his article.
              I have never introduced my writings anywhere else into a conversation here.

              And it isn’t my job to convince anyone to believe something they don’t want to believe. I do provide facts.
              and my opinion is that AA will lose share and fares will fall faster in MIA than across their system just as will happen to UA at EWR. And DL will do what it will in MIA when it is ready.

            3. Tim: “I have never introduced my writings anywhere else into a conversation here.”

              I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.

            4. “And to those that think that AA has the capacity to fund a massive retaliation in MIA, you need only look at their capacity guidance, schedules, and fleet status and deliveries. AA doesn’t have the fleet and certainly not the financial ability to add capacity to dozens of markets as they have with MIA-JFK/LGA/BOS/LAX with the corresponding reductions in average fares which far exceed AA’s system or its MIA hub.”

              Oh, Tim… your love with Delta truly blinds you. The idea that the only carrier with a hub in the only true hub for Latin America won’t defend it… It’s like saying united won’t defend SFO despite the market share being very similar with AA in Miami.

              It’s adorable and laughable. I hope you’re a few moonshine’s deep because i can only imagine that’s the type of liquor that must blind you to any kind of reality.

            5. As has been suggested, the best FINAL WORD should come from data that will become available next Spring showing average fares for AA in MIA alongside AA’s local market share in MIA and its other hubs.
              As soon as Tokyo reopens, the same review of US carrier strategies using average fare and market share data to/from Tokyo is also in order since the latest phase of Haneda reopening happened just weeks after covid lockdowns began.

  4. Saw this coming years ago and nobody should be surprised. NK and F9 have hundreds of aircraft on order and they have to fly them somewhere.

    According to my sources at WN, MIA has been one of their most successful launches in years and they planned on expanding further.

    The E gates at MIA need to be incorporated into AA fortress and D gates, since AA uses them daily now.

    1. The high E gates (connected to the terminal via the tram) are horrible. The tram dumps arrivals behind security, so you have to reclear with everyone else if you’re connecting. And it’s this island that – as a passenger – you can’t leave for that reason. The few concessions there are what you’re stuck with. It’s a really lousy setup for an airline that depends on connecting passengers. Better to let one of the cats and dogs have those gates.

  5. A couple of observations:

    One thing that’s apparently being lost in the conversation is that American should also benefit from MIA’s lower costs. And I’m guessing the airport will reward American’s loyalty over the years to the extent it can. It seems pretty obvious that a great deal of the new service at MIA is because the airport has lowered its costs and fees to the point where it has become competitive with the other airports in the area. Tim Dunn observed above, “DOT data shows that fares to the Caribbean and northern Latin America have been under pressure for years because of the FLL ops of B6, NK and WN.” It seems to me that nothing about this move, or the general increase in LCC and ULCC operations at MIA, changes that one bit. The critics who thought consolidation would reduce airline competition have been shown to be incorrect at this point.

    Tim also observed, “The sheer number of markets which have seen new low cost carrier growth from MIA is certain to make it near impossible for AA not to lose enormous share and for fares to be permanently lowered.” My response to Tim: Prove it. He can’t. And neither can I. His comment is sheer speculation. Terms like certain, near impossible, massive, and enormous are loaded. And how does one define terms like massive or enormous? Even if American’s market share in Miami were to fall to around 50%, which is possible (note that I’m stating it’s possible, not likely), it could (could, not will) still do quite well there. Case in point: American’s operation at Washington Reagan is one of the carrier’s most profitable. American’s market share at DCA is about – you guessed it! – 50%. To paraphrase a line from the old BBC/PBS series “I Claudius”, “Apparently, quality of market share is more important than quantity.”

    Airlines went bankrupt in the early 2000s because they tended to focus on market share, not profitabilty. So far, no U.S. airline has filed for bankruptcy, and unlike some people who comment on airline blogs (and I have no one specifically in mind), I hope none do. I’m seeing where more and more U.S. carriers have recently become cash flow positive (which was my new year’s prediction). If the trend continues, and I hope it will, that’s good news for everyone.

    Finally, there’s nothing that precludes American from adding capacity at Ft. Lauderdale, some of which it’s already done. But that’s something only American can decide. It has real-time (not DOT) market data on which to base its decisions. I don’t.

    1. “Apparently, quality of market share is more important than quantity.”

      Great line, and I think that’s definitely UA’s motto at ORD(+MDW), DEN, IAH(+HOU), and especially LAX.

      1. The line comes from when Claudius (played by Derek Jacoby) is made emperor by the palace guards after Caligula’s murder. He stuttered, was lame, and played the fool for much of his life, even though he was an excellent scholar. Most importantly, he was still alive because of his ability to play the fool. The whole line goes thus (or at least close), “There are many who’ve said I’m half-witted. Most of them are dead. Apparently, quality of wits is more important than quantity.”

    2. While airports cannot negotiate terms with one airline that they wouldn’t offer to others, the MIA fee change is not an across the board fee cut but rather likely something growth driven. Any carrier, including AA, that grows can likely benefit for new growth.
      It is actually is possible to see how AA responded to B6’ addition of flights and see that AA simply cannot add that level of capacity in these markets; they don’t have the system capacity or the financial margin to wage war on that many fronts.
      And, because AAL had the highest unit costs pre-covid and that has largely been maintained through covid – with UA higher in some quarters – AA will never be as capable of fighting market share battles as other carriers.
      AA can add more at FLL if they want – but that just comes as one more front they have to fight. AA mgmt. said even before covid that half of their hubs don’t generate margins at levels comparable to DFW, CLT and DCA and that is not likely to change.
      DCA is slot-controlled. Totally different market dynamics. US airlines have never received as much aid as they did during covid.
      Other carriers will be able to grow more easily in other AA strength markets if AA focuses all of its energy on protecting AA.
      Market share isn’t the sole goal but strong enough pricing to maintain share is. AA can’t do both with all of this new capacity, the most any legacy carrier has ever seen in such a short period of time.
      I would love to see a follow-up with data in 2022 – but local market data that covers all of this expansion won’t be available until April 2022 or later.

      1. Tim wrote, “…the MIA fee change is not an across the board fee cut but rather likely something growth driven…”

        My answer: Do you know the first part for certain? At least you mentioned that the second part of the excerpt is “likely” something growth driven. But your first part unequivocally states the MIA fee change is not an across the board fee cut – that’s all I’m questioning. You may be absolutely correct, but we don’t know that, and can’t prove it one way or another without access to internal documents. If you know otherwise, and can prove it, I’m open to seeing what you have to offer.

        Tim wrote, ” … AA simply cannot add that level of capacity in these markets; they don’t have the system capacity or the financial margin to wage war on that many fronts.”

        My answer: Prove it.

        Tim wrote, “Other carriers will be able to grow more easily in other AA strength markets if AA focuses all of its energy on protecting AA.”

        My answer: Prove it.

        Tim wrote, “AA can’t do both with all of this new capacity, the most any legacy carrier has ever seen in such a short period of time.”

        My answer: Prove it.

        All of your observations are merely speculation. That’s cool. Speculation is fun. How do you know that slot controls automatically mean higher margins? I understand (I only understand, I can’t prove it, and make no assertions that I can) that Delta lost money at JFK and LGA for a number of years. If you know differently, and can actually prove it through internal or GAAP accounting figures, not by inference to, or assumptions and calculations based on DOT data, I’ll look at the evidence. Until then, color me skeptical. I try to label my opinions and speculation as such. I try not to state that something is a fact unless I can prove it, or have some very good evidence to back up my views.

        Good to have you back.

        1. You cannot use AA at DCA as a comparison. While true AA has roughly 50% share, the airport is slot controlled and therefore, prevents competitors from adding flights

          Also, while nothing is a certainty, the addition of all those low fare carriers on all those routes certainly won’t improve AA’s yields. In fact, logic and history indicates the opposite will occur.

  6. Maybe it’s just me but the F9 and NK route maps from MIA look eerily similar.

    1. I think there is something to this. I fall into that group too. I am certain there exists a not insubstantial group of people at MIA who will pay more to fly on AA than on any of these newcomers. I would love to quantify the size of this group, both in terms of sheer numbers as well as how much of a premium they would be willing to pay to avoid a ULCC.

      Of course those of us in this group are probably idiots because AA’s new “oasis” seating isn’t a helluva lot different than NK or F9 or any of the other ULCCs.

      1. I’ll bite.
        I get it. I see the “oasis” and NK/F9 comparison thrown around too, but it is kind of annoying.

        How is it similar?
        AA oasis has 30” pitch in economy just like most of delta planes (despite what they say publicly, their new a221s are delivered with lots of rows at 30” and the vast majority of the rest of their fleet is flying around with 30-31” pitch in Y whether a brand new a321 or 739 ) and most of United planes.
        NK is what? 28” pitch?

        AA Oasis has first class at the same pitch, 37”, or better than most of the delta fleet. NK has the big front seat, of course @ 36” pitch but that’s what the lower end of Delta first class seating is, not AA Oasis end state (you can find 36” in first on old US Airways planes but those are getting more legroom with oasis)
        AA has free Streaming entertainment. High speed WiFi on the entire mainline fleet.

        I get casual fun statements but this AA Oasis comparison to Spirit is a bit tiresome. All AA did was, aside from PTVs, mimic what Delta had already done with most of its fleet in pitch — densify.

        1. Guess that is why I mostly use WN and their 31″ (-700s) or 32-33″ (-800/Max) seat pitch. Interesting to see if they attempt to add even more in MIA given their stated success there.

        2. Hey Jake, point taken and verified below. Mine definitely qualified as a casual fun statement.

          Since I love seatguru as much as the next guy or gal, I learned that NK runs almost all of their seats at the bone crunching 28″ pitch except for the tiny handful of “big front” seats which aren’t even on all of their aircraft (news to me). F9 is 28″ as well except they offer many “stretch” seats of the economy plus style offering (24 on the 319s, 30-36 on the 320s and 321s) and their 321s have 30″ pitch minimums for some reason. The more you know!

      2. I fall into that group. Im from one of the Central American destinations and my work takes me to the Caribbean. My company is looking to save costs but fortunately for me will not go to a low cost carrier because real or not their schedule reliability is not well perceived by me the user and the decision makers. The oasis experience is offset knowing there still some sort of safety net if operations go bad.

    2. I do wonder if there is some ‘bound’ on the market for NK/F9. Sure, there are customers that will purely go on the price point only but how many of those customers exist? And certainly how many of those customers will do it repeatedly? They are wonderful at helping the bigger airlines keep their fares down a bit but when do NK/F9 hit a ceiling on customer growth?

      This really feels like NK just trying to take a swipe at AA while they are down in a covid-haze. After Spring Break 2022 is done in Miami Beach, how much of this capacity will actually make it for NK will be the interesting question? Party On!

    3. I have flown Spirit many times, and have 3 future flights booked. They are the most transparent airline-they promise nothing more then clean planes, friendly crew, and reliable service-and they have largely delivered

  7. I fully expect AA to retaliate here, but I’m not sure how that would affect rest of their network. AA adding capacity at MIA/FLL will simply dilute the yield in South Florida event further. It will also pull resources away from other hubs. I don’t think they will pull resource from DFW/CLT to defend MIA. So where will they go to fund these retaliation? It will be interesting to see. Not a great situation for AA.

    1. FC – How much do they need to pull to fund a retaliation? I wouldn’t think it would be all that hard if they feel the need to respond here. But ultimately I think retaliation wouldn’t be the right answer here. Maybe some upgauging to account for lower fares in some markets, but other than that it should be more of a pricing response than a capacity response.

      1. Given what we’ve seen them do in response to B6 and WN’s MIA moves, I would expect a pretty large retaliation here. I guess we will wait and see. After all, they’ve done a major buildup in AUS at least in part due to their desire to retaliate against WN’s moves into MIA and ORD.

  8. They are already posts on social media lamenting that Spirit passengers will soon be descending on South Beach (like they couldn’t do that if they flew into FLL ?).

    Growth at MIA has been increíble. Here at BWI, we went from only having AA serve the route nonstop, to when Spirit starts, four.

    It certainly is convenient, and there is a very inexpensive shuttle from the airport to Miami Beach.

  9. Great! I’m ready for more Spirit PAX meltdowns at the gates and in the air (kidding). The quantity of ‘air rage’ incidents is directly inverse to the price of the airfare.

  10. I have flown Spirit many times, and have 3 future flights booked. They are the most transparent airline-they promise nothing more then clean planes, friendly crew, and reliable service-and they have largely delivered

  11. I was going to complain that Frontier isn’t as big of a player as they would seem…and then I looked at their schedule for this month via Kayak’s Direct feature. Apparently AUS-MIA is one of the few routes where they aren’t participating ’til later this year, and then only at 2x/wk. Which I guess makes sense; with AA’s 4x daily (2x E75, 1x 319, 1x 7M8) and Southwest’s 1x daily, fares aren’t particularly high, and if AA felt the need they could upgauge E75 -> 319 or 319 -> 738/7M8 to assist with unit economics (and WN can similarly bounce between a -700 and an -800/MAX8).

    Curious how long F9/NK will compete on various MIA routes. IMO F9’s product is slightly better, at least until NK gets WiFi rolled out, but NK’s on-time performance is better as I recall. If Spirit can muscle Frontier out, maybe AUS-MIA shows up on NK daily, as Frontier feels like they’ve retrenched here.

  12. I see that Tim Dunn is back, here commenting on Cranky’s post relative to Spirit entering Miami, and sure as the sun sets in the West, the story gets over to DAL, and the merits of that airline.

    I am disappointed to see his comments as it seems to me to be more of the same that got him stopped/moderated a bit last year on Cranky’s blog. To me, his comments continue to be “pump” DAL, and do whatever it takes to “defend” DAL from any comments that might be viewed by the comment readers as not favorable toward DAL.

    Tim is a very good writer and I enjoy reading his Seeking Alpha articles, many of which are “pump” DAL and defend “DAL from its critics pieces. But those articles are for a financial blog, making a BUY/SELL pitch, many singling out the merits of one DAL.

    In that venue he gets lots of comments. In his most recent article, “Delta’s Refinery Strategy Looks Very Smart,” he commented to someone who seemingly disagreed with his article, Tim said:

    “It is not my job to make you believe something you don’t want.”
    “It is my job (at least on SA) to provide interested investors with data that they can and will use to make decisions.”

    Here, at Cranky I look to Cranky’s blog not as a BUY/SELL post of any type, but as one in which the blogger (Cranky) has a deep and passionate interest in airlines, and wants to hear others’ comments.

    To me, Tim is using Cranky blog a an adjunct to Seeking Alpha. Observe, comment, listen, argue, leaving nothing unchallenged.

    When you see his name, you know what you are going to get. His comments cross of simple discourse, to trying to make a case for which he, through Seeking Alpha has a personal interest, seemingly financial. These types of comments are not what I want to read in Cranky. I think something ought to be done to end it. This blog is too good to keep allowing it.

    1. Jaybru – Point taken, and I wouldn’t say I disagree. But what got him moderated previously was the personal attacks, not the overposting and overchallenging of every comment. I’m giving very little rope here, but there is some rope to be had. So, I will keep watching.

  13. Quote:
    There are already posts on social media lamenting that Spirit passengers will soon be descending on South Beach (like they couldn’t do that if they flew into FLL ?).

    Growth at MIA has been incredible. Here at BWI, we went from only having AA serve the route nonstop, to when Spirit starts, four.

    It certainly is convenient, and there is a very inexpensive shuttle from the airport to Miami Beach.
    End Quote (with two corrections)

    The problem is the political leaders of Miami Beach are trying to shut down the Entertainment District of Ocean Drive and other Avenues nearby. They are tired of the need to pay for additional police to help control the crowds of unruly people. They have started by changing the closing time of these venues to earlier in the evening(morning). This reminds me of what Fort Lauderdale did back in the late 80’s that basically killed the Spring Break crowds. Remember the movie, “Where The Boys Are” and the popularity of FLL beach with college kids? Now the crowd is a lot older, and to the most part less likely to be unruly.

  14. I don’t truly understand the variable/preferential thing? Are they basically cutting Spirit/JetBlue a sweeter deal?

      1. and for the benefit of those that may not remember, when AA built its massive new facility at MIA, all airlines’ fees jumped dramatically which made it prohibitive for other domestic carriers to grow there and MIA ended w/ the smallest roster of domestic airlines of any large airport.
        FLL became a very cost-efficient alternative and became the largest airport in S. Florida for domestic travel and became dominated by low cost carriers.
        MIA had no choice but to change its pricing structure and incentivize other domestic airlines to begin service. The new fee structure also pulls out the international facilities from the domestic cost base which means that other domestic airlines don’t have to pay for AA’s international facilities or for the facilities that dozens of international foreign carriers use; presumably international usage fees will go up esp. since the cost of those facilities on a per-passenger basis are very high right now because of low volumes while the cost of adding domestic-only flights will be relatively low.

  15. Sorry, I didn’t post this earlier with my other comment.

    Quote from CF’s story:

    The North Terminal (D gates) is American’s fortress, and I can’t imagine Spirit would have any way to go in there. The South Terminal (H/J gates) is the primary international terminal, and it’s also where Delta operates its meager flying. If Delta follows up on its promise to actually build a Miami hub to feed LATAM, I’ll be curious to see where that goes. Meanwhile the Central Terminal (E/F/G gates) is for the cats and dogs.

    F is actually currently under renovation and as I understand it, it’s supposed to be finished in the fourth quarter. As of now, the E gates are for American spillover (and its partners) plus JetBlue and a whole host of other little guys. The G gates are domestic-only and are for Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country, and United. Once F opens up, we’ll see what that means for the shuffle. I’d assume that Spirit will end up either in the new F or E gates… or possibly split between G and somewhere else where it could operate the international flying. But we’ll have to wait and see.
    End Quote

    For International Arrivals, Spirit would have to use either H or J since D/E is for AA and it’s partners and the two Custom areas are at terminals D/E (1st Floor) and H/J (3rd Floor). They could always use gates at F/G, but would have to bus all International arrivals that don’t have preclearance to the custom’s areas. Now they can always have a split operation, but that would not be efficient for manpower deployment. One other thing they could do is arrive at an H/J gate, disembark the international passengers and then move the plane to a departure gate at another terminal (ala NW at DTW, before the new terminal was built), but again it would be an inefficient deployment of manpower.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier