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Spirit hires Alaska's Kirby to lead network planning

Spirit Airlines has hired John Kirby from Alaska Airlines as its new vice-president of network planning, replacing Mark Kopczak, who will leave Spirit after 19 years.

Kirby was most recently vice-president of capacity planning and alliances at Alaska. He joined Alaska in 2015 from Southwest Airlines, where he was senior director of domestic and international planning. He also previously worked at AirTran Airways and US Airways.

"John Kirby’s extensive knowledge and experience will no doubt be a vital asset to Spirit Airlines as we continue to grow our domestic and international network,” says Ted Christie, president of Spirit. Christie will become chief executive on 1 January, succeeding Bob Fornaro.

Kopczak will leave Spirit in 2019, says the Miramar, Florida-based airline. During his career at Spirit, he oversaw the addition of more than 60 cities to the ultra low-cost carrier's network and the deployment of more than 110 new aircraft. He joined the airline in 2000 as its director of pricing and revenue management, according to Kopczak's LinkedIn profile. He was appointed vice-president of network planning in 2013.

"Mark’s deep logistical knowledge and skill for identifying successful routes and cities has been a key factor to Spirit’s incredible success as a highly-valued international carrier," says Spirit chief commercial officer Matt Klein.

Kirby will join the ultra low-cost carrier as it embarks on the next phase of its network expansion. It most recently grew service to Latin America and the Caribbean from Orlando, and is adding Jacksonville and Austin for a total of 70 destinations in its network.

The airline also sees connecting traffic as a growth opportunity, as it takes advantage of the volume of departures at some of its biggest cities including its base at Fort Lauderdale.

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