The company was founded in 1964 as Clippert Trucking Company, a Michigan corporation, and in 1974 changed its name to Ground Air Transfer, Inc. In 1983, the company started doing business as Charter One, a Detroit-based charter tour operator providing travel packages to entertainment destinations such as Atlantic City, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. In 1992, Charter One changed its name to Spirit Airlines, brought jet equipment into the fleet, and thereafter began adding scheduled passenger service to destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Detroit, Myrtle Beach, Los Angeles and New York. Spirit relocated its headquarters to Miramar, Florida in
December 1999. Expansion continued with the addition of the Chicago
market, as well as coast-to-coast service to Los Angeles.
In November 2001, Spirit inaugurated service to San Juan, Puerto Rico and implemented a fully-integrated
Spanish language customer service plan, including a website and dedicated reservation line. May and June 2002 brought new service to L
as Vegas, as well as expanded service in nearly every market. Fall of 2003 brought Spirit to Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport andCancun, Mexico. In fall 2004, Spirit introduced service to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Transition to Low-Cost Carrier and Ultra Low Cost Carrier
Investment funds managed by Oaktree gained control of Spirit after making investments in 2004 and 2005 bringing a change in business strategy and positioning of Spirit as a low-cost carrier with a focus on expanding Caribbean and Latin American
routes. Several unprofitable domestic routes were closed and Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport was established as Spirit’s main base of operations. In 2006, Indigo acquired a majority stake in the airline, and Spirit began implementing its Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) business model and further expanded its Caribbean and Latin American routes.
The ULCC of the Americas
In 2005 – 2006, Spirit added new flights to the Bahamas, Jamaica, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Additional service to the Caribbean began in 2007 to Haiti, Aruba, St. Maarten/St. Martin, and increased service to Puerto Rico viaAguadilla and Ponce. Low cost service to Latin America began in 2007, with new service to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua in Central America, and new service to Peru in South America. In 2008, Spirit added new service to Boston, as well as more flights to the Caribbean and LatinAmerica with new service to Panama City, Panama; and Cartagena and Bogota, Colombia. In 2009, Spirit added Santiago,
Dominican Republic, and Medellin and Armenia, Colombia, to its route map, along with new service from Fort Lauderdale to both Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as additional service in existing markets. Expansion in existing markets continued in 2010 along with new service to Barranquilla, Colombia. In 2011, Spirit is adding service to five new markets, including Plattsburgh, NY; Niagara Falls, NY; Latrobe, PA; Charleston, WV; and Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.
All Airbus Fleet
Spirit’s transition to an all-Airbus fleet in began in late 2004 and was completed in September 2006. Spirit’s fuel efficient fleet currently consists of Airbus A319s with seating for 145 customers, A320s with seating for 174 customers, and A321s with seating for 218 customers.
The Spirit Airlines all-Airbus fleet consists of the following 41 aircraft (as of May 2012):
|Airbus A321-200||2||0||4||214||218||Expected to leave the fleet in 2017 at the end of the lease.|
|Airbus A321-200||4||2008||Airbus A320 Family||All Leased|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-81||1||2006||MD 80 Family||Also operated the DC-9|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||8||2006||Airbus A320 Family||Also operated the DC-9|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||5||2006||Airbus A320 Family||Also operated the DC-9|
The Corporate Philosophy
In 2007, Spirit unveiled its new ultra low cost carrier brand that celebrates the colors of the Caribbean and Latin America regions. The company’s energetic new colors reinforce Spirit’s four brand principles:
Caliente Red – Low Fares Environmental Green – On-time and Reliable Sunshine Yellow – Clean New Planes
Ocean Blue – Friendly Staff.
Spirit Airlines is the most profitable airline in the United States per plane, at $2.06 million per plane in 2011.
The airline’s market share consists of 1% of U.S. air travelers.