Republic Airways is considering acquiring Bombardier CSeries aircraft for Frontier Airlines’ fleet to replace A320 equipment (The Gazette, 10-Dec-2009). Several of Frontier's 51 A320s are subject to leases expiring between 2013 and 2017. A decision would be made in early 2010. [more – Perspective]
Republic Airways considering acquiring Bombardier CSeries aircraft for Frontier
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Southwest Airlines:domestic changes, continued international expansion, as overall 2017 growth slows
Southwest Airlines plans lower system capacity growth in 2017. The company joins other US airlines working feverishly to return to positive unit revenue as oil prices and labour costs are forecast to rise for most of the country’s airlines.
Even as Southwest’s capacity increases are projected to fall year-on-year in 2017 the airline is broadening its international reach with the debut of new flights from Fort Lauderdale, and is making moves in its domestic network.
This includes its decision to launch service from Cincinnati, a market that has attracted significant low cost service during the past two to three years as its hub status for Delta has diminished. Southwest’s service entry at Cincinnati comes at the cost of flights from Akron and Dayton, which is not surprising, given Cincinnati’s potential to garner higher revenue.
Although Southwest cited some positive trends at the end of 2016, it struck a cautious tone about the operating environment in the US, noting that while yields were improving, the revenue environment remains challenging. US airlines, including Southwest, are being closely watched after declaring they will return to positive unit revenue in 1H2017.
Spirit Airlines’ network changes have been more subtle than dramatic under new CEO
When a new CEO took the helm at Spirit Airlines during 2016 the immediate reaction was speculation that the move was a first step to merging with fellow ULCC Frontier. Eventually the excitement over consolidation in the US ULCC sector died down, and Spirit outlined more subtle strategy changes.
The most significant was Spirit’s assessment that opportunities existed in small to medium sized markets, which was a pivot from its strategy of competing with bigger US airlines in some of their largest and most important markets.
In order to support the shift in its network strategy Spirit has made changes to its fleet composition during 2016, including retaining more smaller-gauge Airbus A319s and converting 10 A321neos scheduled for delivery in 2019 to A320neos. The fleet changes also help Spirit improve its financial structure through a higher number of owned aircraft.
So far, Spirit has only announced one new smaller market in 2016, with the addition of Akron-Canton to its route map. The remainder of its route additions have been in larger markets in competition with the larger US airlines. Perhaps more clues to the airline’s long-term network strategy will emerge in 2017.