American Airlines is fighting back at low-cost challenges to its strong Caribbean operation by launching new routes that rival services begun by Spirit Airlines. American, which is already the dominant player at Miami with a 71% market share, plans to add flights from nearby Fort Lauderdale International Airport, Spirit's home base.

American, which sometimes calls the Caribbean "our ocean", will begin flights in December from Fort Lauderdale to San José in Costa Rica and Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The carrier, which already serves these destinations from Miami, will also increase capacity on its existing services from Fort Lauderdale to Haiti and Puerto Rico.

By opening Caribbean and Latin American routes in recent years, Spirit has become the largest carrier at Fort Lauderdale with a market share of 15%, twice that of American. Spirit is fighting American back by applying for rights to launch services from Fort Lauderdale to Bogotá and Barranquilla in Colombia.

It claims American has been "warehousing" or storing a third of its 70 weekly flight rights between the USA and Colombia. Spirit says there is no low fares service between the two countries and that its lowest Bogotá fare would be 40% below American's.

Source: Airline Business