Just last week Spirit Airlines announced plans to reduce its flight schedule by 45% in April and 75% in May. It now appears that the cuts will run even deeper. Sources inside the company suggest that the network could see a significant number of destinations removed and the operation reduced by 90%.
OAG schedules for late April see the carrier slated to operate just under 500 flights to approximately 44 US destinations. Those numbers are already reduced from the company’s original plans for the year but the revised cuts will be much worse. The new schedule see Spirit planning service to only 21 cities across just 56 daily departures. The carrier will especially scale back on its longer routes, with only four of the 21 destinations involving an overnight away from base for the crew.
Cuts at this level would leave Spirit Airlines outside of compliance with the “Covered Points” section of the US DOT’s guidance related to continuing operations under Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act). This means that Spirit would be unable to secure access to emergency payroll funding from the federal government under that legislation. While that is a significant cash grant to forego it could make sense for Spirit given its more leisure-focused operation and lower likelihood of filling flights even on a skeleton network level of service.
The National Air Carrier Association (NACA), representing Spirit and other ULCC airlines, did request a variance in the DOT’s guidance for eligibility requirements, suggesting that frequencies be reduced and that previously planned schedules for April and May be considered rather than trailing schedules for the airlines. Even with those adjustments, however, it is unlikely that Spirit would qualify with only 21 destinations on its route map.
Losing access to those funds increases the likelihood of significant employee furloughs at the carrier.
The carrier has previously disclosed plans to stop flights from the New York/New Jersey area owing to no demand as the NYC area faces a lockdown scenario.
A company spokesperson declined to comment on the revised schedule cuts, reiterating only the previously announced 75/90% cuts planned for April and May announced last month. Regarding the CARES Acte the company indicated that it continues to evaluate the legislation and that it is in contact with the appropriate authorities and agencies.
For a (generally) up-to-date listing of airlines and their operational levels check out this spreadsheet maintained by PaxEx.Aero and other industry experts.
More on COVID-19 and the airlines affected
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Your sources were wrong. 75% cut for April to match 75% for May.
Seth Miller says
That doesn’t match with the internal doc I saw, but we’ll see.
Jacob Damron says
Those plans have changed numerous times. The 90% is accurate.
Spirit is a POOR airline service and a rip off!! They need to go Completely out of BUSINESS!!!!
victoria nguyen says
jesus, i flew them and they were fine. Better than united and delta that I flew to be honest.