Spirit Airlines and its pilots, represented by the Air Lines Pilots Association (ALPA), resumed contract negotiations on 15-Jun-2010 in a bid to end a four-day strike which grounded the carrier (AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 15-Jun-2010). Meanwhile, Spirit issued furlough notices to 600 flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, with the attendants to remain furloughed until the end of the pilots strike. Spirit also announced the cancellation of services through to 17-Jun-2010. [more - Spirit]
Spirit flights cancelled until 17-Jun-2010
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US airlines Part 2: LCCs and ULCCs face the same cost overhang as their larger rivals
US low cost carriers and ULCCs observed many of the same trends in the country’s marketplace at the end of 2016 as their large global network rivals – namely, that weak pricing trends in the domestic market were improving. Each airline has its own nuanced view of that general operating environment, but they feel encouraged by what they hope is an inflection point in pricing that will lay the groundwork for a return to positive unit revenue.
Those lower cost and ultra-low cost airlines also face similar challenges to their larger counterparts – cost pressure from new labour contracts and rising oil prices. And like their larger rivals, most of the lower cost US airlines are plotting lower capacity growth in 2017 as a means to improve their respective revenue performances.
For now, pricing improvement that began in late 3Q2016 and a bump in demand after the US presidential election are sustaining the cautious optimism expressed by US airlines as 2017 gets under way. But no US airline is ready to declare that pricing traction in the country’s domestic market is on a sustained upswing.
This is Part 2 of two reports examining the outlook for US airlines in 2017.
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.