Spirit Airlines has announced its latest network addition. Starting from May 26th, the airline will offer four daily nonstop flights out of Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), giving customers new ways to hit the slopes in Park City and offering local residents an opportunity to take more low-cost vacations.
Spirit Airlines announces new flights to Salt Lake City
On Tuesday, Spirit Airlines announced its first major network addition of 2022. Starting May 26th, 2022, the airline will add three new routes out of SLC to Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), and Orlando (MCO). When service launches, it will mark the first time that Spirit has served the state of Utah.
John Kirby, Spirit’s Vice President of Network Planning, stated the following on the addition:
“We listen to our Guests, and they told us they wanted more exciting Western destinations to experience the great outdoors. This spring is a great time to launch service to Salt Lake City, The Crossroads of the West. We’re also excited to introduce our high-value travel proposition for our new Utah Guests looking for convenient non-stop flights to some of the nation’s most popular leisure destinations.”
When flights launch, Spirit will offer twice-daily service to Las Vegas. Los Angeles and Orlando will both operate with daily service. These are not new routes for the airport, meaning Spirit will face competition. Delta is the largest competitor on all of these routes.
Spirit lands in an entrenched hub
Salt Lake City is perhaps most well-known in the aviation world as being a hub for Delta Air Lines. Delta is the largest airline by a wide margin at the airport, which traditionally has not seen a massive low-cost operation. The largest airline in that respect is Southwest Airlines, which, according to data from Cirium, makes up just under 10% of weekly departures and around 11% of seats on offer this summer.
Salt Lake City unveiled “The New SLC” in 2020, which was a massive redevelopment of the airport. With modernized facilities and a larger footprint to allow for airline growth, the addition of new airlines at SLC was more of a when than an if, though the events surrounding the global health crisis largely impacted the arrival of new airlines. Spirit is the first new domestic airline to enter Salt Lake City. Lufthansa’s Eurowings Discover is the first international airline.
Spirit continues its growth
Spirit Airlines has been growing significantly throughout 2021. This includes the addition of new markets, primarily in the eastern United States, including places like Memphis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Manchester, and abroad in places like Tegucigalpa. Its large Airbus A320neo family backlog has largely driven the airline’s expansion strategy. In 2022, the carrier expects to take delivery of 24 new aircraft from Airbus. Certainly, the new Airbus A320neos offer compelling economics that makes longer-haul routes, such as between Salt Lake City and Orlando, viable.
Salt Lake City is an interesting market. One of its largest draws for traffic is the airport’s proximity to Park City, which is well-known as a major ski resort and even hosted part of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City. While there will undoubtedly be some measure of customers who are flying Spirit to get to Salt Lake City, Spirit’s routes will also target origination traffic out of Salt Lake, bringing local residents to top leisure gateways like Las Vegas and Orlando. Ultimately, the combination of both traffic streams will likely make these routes work for the ultra-low-cost carrier.
Salt Lake also expands Spirit’s network growth to the western United States. Much of the airline’s growth has recently been concentrated on the eastern US, save for some expansion of routes out of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. However, long term, there will continue to be plenty of opportunities in the Western United States, and Salt Lake City resembles just one example of such opportunities.