AIRLINES

Spirit Airlines in talks with Miami International Airport

 
 
A member of Spirit Airlines grounds crew, right, guides a jet toward the runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2011.
A member of Spirit Airlines grounds crew, right, guides a jet toward the runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2011.
MARSHA HALPER / MIAMI HERALD FILE

hsampson@MiamiHerald.com

Is Spirit Airlines bringing low-cost, no-frills flying to Miami?

No deal has been finalized, but the Miramar-based budget carrier has been in talks with Miami International Airport and Miami-Dade county officials for months about the possibility.

“They want to move a number, if not a bulk, of their operations to MIA,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez told the Miami Herald last week.

While Spirit won't comment on specific plans for growth, a spokeswoman said there are no plans to abandon Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where the airline is the No. 3 carrier.

“We have no plans to move the FLL base,” Spirit spokeswoman Maggie Espin-Christina said in an email. “FLL is a very important, successful and profitable piece of our network. We talk to airports all the time and, while Miami does qualify as one of the many airports that could benefit from our low fares, there is nothing to announce at this time.”

Spirit has 45 flights a day at the Fort Lauderdale airport, where it has lease obligations through late 2016. In 2013, the airline had more than 18 percent of the market share at FLL, carrying nearly 4.3 million passengers to and from the airport.

Through February of this year, the airline flew 743,505 passengers, a more than 7 percent increase over the same period in 2013.

“Spirit is a good partner and has a good working relationship with Broward County,” said Gregory Meyer, spokesman for the Broward County Aviation Department. “Our airport and their airline have grown together. We have no information indicating that Spirit plans to relocate their operations from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to any other airport in the region.”

Spirit flies to more than 50 destinations in the U.S., Latin America and Caribbean, with more than 250 flights a day. Last year, the airline started service to 25 new markets. In its annual report filed in February, the publicly traded company said it has already established “a substantial network of destinations in profitable U.S. domestic niche markets.”

The airline, well known for its quirky ads and add-on fees for everything from carry-on luggage to bottled water, said it has also grown into large markets where higher airfares have made flying difficult for price-sensitive travelers.

“Our strategy to balance growth in large domestic markets, niche markets and opportunities in the Caribbean and Latin America gives us a significant number of growth opportunities,” the report says.

Spirit has never flown out of Miami International Airport, which has only a handful of international low-cost carriers. MIA is more expensive for airlines than Fort Lauderdale, where the top three carriers are low-cost companies with nearly 57 percent of the market combined.

Separate statements from Gimenez and the airport on Tuesday indicated that talks with Spirit about starting operations at MIA have been ongoing for “many months” with nothing yet final.

“That said, I would gladly welcome Spirit Airlines should they include MIA in their future growth plans,” Gimenez said.

Miami Herald staff writer Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.

Read more Business stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">HAPPY DANCE:</span> Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz dances with Ileana Quevedo, employee of IKEA during the opening ceremony of IKEA in Sweetwater on Wednesday.

    New IKEA opens its doors

    Several thousand people were in line by the time IKEA opened its first store in Miami-Dade County — and its second largest store in the United States — at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, with free giveaways for the first visitors in line. More than 200 customers had camped out overnight, awaiting the Sweetwater store’s opening, said IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth.

  •  
Biscayne entrance.

    Melia Hotels announces spring opening for ME Miami

    Meliá Hotels International announced Wednesday that it will open the ME Miami hotel in spring of 2015.

  • Senior scams more prevalent as population ages

    States step up to protect seniors, but even the savvy are vulnerable.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category