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Spirit eyes eventual Canada service

Spirit Airlines is considering service to Canada, with chief executive Ted Christie saying its "on the list".

"Canada is clearly on the list," he told attendees at the Airports Council International-North America JumpStart conference in Nashville on 3 June. "It's a nut we've been looking to crack here for a while."

The cities closest to Canada served by Spirit are Niagara Falls and Plattsburgh, both in New York. Those flights capture Canadian travellers willing to drive across the US border for cheaper fares.

The Miramar, Florida-based ultra-low-cost carrier is growing international capacity at more than three-times system capacity, Cirium schedules data shows. International capacity is scheduled to increase 36.5% this year.

All of that growth is to the Caribbean and Latin America, including new routes added from Spirit's new Orlando focus city that began in late 2018.

Canada would be a different direction for Spirit, pushing the airline's network further north even as the bulk of its flights are to warmer leisure destinations. However, Christie says the airline wants to gain a stronger foothold in larger cities, "because that's where people live and work".

Issues to potential Canadian service include sales in local currency, access to ticket distribution systems and high airport costs, he says.

None of these issues are insurmountable, adds Christie, saying Spirit will land in the country "eventually".

Spirit has announced four new cities this year, including Burbank, Charlotte and Nashville, and plans to grow system capacity by roughly 15% year-over-year.

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