Spirit unlikely to take part in consolidation

Fort Lauderdale
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Ultra low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines does not expect to buy another airline or be acquired, despite the waves of consolidation that have formed a big part of the US airline industry narrative in recent years.

"I don't see Spirit as a player in consolidation, meaning we're going to be a buyer or seller," Spirit's chief executive Ben Baldanza tells Flightglobal.

However, the airline believes that consolidation creates opportunities for Spirit to grow in markets where consolidation has reduced the number of airlines operating on a route, he adds.

"Consolidation has been good for the industry, but not necessarily great for customers," says Baldanza, who believes that airline mergers have resulted in fewer competitors on routes and therefore higher fares and fewer flights.

That is when Spirit is able to come in and stimulate traffic and thus lower fares as result, he adds. "It creates opportunities for a carrier like us," says Baldanza.

Spirit plans to begin flights in May to Denver, the base of fellow ultra low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines. Frontier is in the process of being separated from parent Republic Airways Holdings, but Baldanza says this has had no effect on Spirit's decision to enter Denver. "We ignore what other people are doing," he says.

The carrier's entrance into Denver was driven by Spirit's belief that it could lower fares by 25% in the four routes it plans to launch in May from the city, compared to what is being offered by United Airlines, Frontier and Southwest Airlines, says Baldanza.