Spirit Airlines sharklet-equipped A320s take flight

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Spirit Airlines is now flying a new sharklet-equipped Airbus A320 aircraft.

The airline confirmed that it has been flying the A320 since 17 April. The first flight was from Tampa, Florida to Detroit, Michigan.

The airline said sharklets can reduce fuel burn by up to 4% and cut each aircraft's annual greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

The eight-foot-high sharklets also give the aircraft an additional 100nm (185km) in range or allow it to carry an addition 992 pounds (450kg) of payload, Spirit said.

The airline declined to comment on whether the added range would allow it to begin flying new, longer routes.

The airline said sharklets also reduce engine maintenance costs and increase operational efficiency, resulting in better take-off performance and climb rate.

Spirit's all-Airbus fleet includes 29 A319s, 18 A320s and two A321s.

The airline has five A320s scheduled for delivery in 2013, seven scheduled for delivery in 2014 and 10 scheduled for delivery in 2015, Spirit says.

The airline has a total of 75 new aircraft, including 45 A320neos, on order for delivery though 2021. It has also signed a letter of intent to lease an addition five A320neos.