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Spirit to open Orlando base to support growth

Spirit Airlines will open an Orlando crew base in December, supporting its planned growth at the airport.

The ultra low-cost carrier will initially base 50 pilots and 80 flight attendants at Orlando International airport from 1 December, says Spirit vice-president of inflight experience Lania Rittenhouse at an event there today. The airline plans to grow the number of crew members there in the future.

Orlando will be Spirit's seventh crew base, after Atlantic City, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas.

The new base comes as Spirit launches a growth spurt to Latin America. The airline begins service to Aguadilla, Guatemala City, Panama City (Panama) and Santo Domingo from Orlando today, followed by Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin, St Thomas, San Jose (Costa Rica), San Pedro Sula and San Salvador by November.

"Today, Spirit goes international from Orlando," says Bob Fornaro, outgoing chief executive of the Miramar, Florida-based carrier. "Our new Latin America gateway becomes a reality."

The new routes from Orlando, the busiest airport in Florida with 44.6 million passengers in 2017, complement existing routes from Spirit's Fort Lauderdale home.

Spirit will compete with Avianca to Bogota, Guatemala City and San Salvador; Copa Airlines to Panama City; and JetBlue Airways to Aguadilla, Bogota, Santo Domingo and San Jose, FlightGlobal schedules data shows.

Cartagena, Medellin, St Thomas and San Pedro Sula are new destinations from Orlando, the data shows.

The airline plans to grow capacity by nearly 23% in 2018, and roughly 14% in 2019.

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