Spirit Airlines, a low-fare carrier with 14 gateways in the U.S., posted a steady 21.3 percent increase in the number of passengers carried in March 2000 versus March 1999. Last month, the airline served 291,479 passengers, topping last year`s monthly figure of 240,255, representing an increase of 51,224 passengers. The year-to-date figure of 742,079 passengers carried is up 33.6 percent over last year’s figure of 555,506.
Spirit Airlines’ revenue passenger miles (RPMs) and available seat miles (ASMs) also showed solid increases in March. RPMs for the month were up 28.7 percent over March 1999, with figures of 283,754,000 and 220,547,000, respectively, while the year-to-date figure increased by 41 percent. ASMs for March 2000 were up 37.4 percent over March 1999, with figures of 360,074,000 and 262,104,000, respectively, and a year-to-date increase of 51.5 percent.
The load factor percentage for the month held at a respectable 78.8 percent, registering a 5.3 point decrease, when compared to the March 1999 figure of 84.1 percent. The drop is largely attributed to Spirit Airline’s plan to grow with MD-80 aircraft versus DC-9 aircraft, which is creating more capacity in the short run than warranted. However, the MD-80 is much more fuel-efficient than the DC-9 and is therefore more profitable to operate even at a lower load factor.
Spirit Airlines, which offers low-fare jet service to some of America’s most popular leisure destinations, is one of the fastest growing, privately held air carriers in the United States. The airline currently has a fleet of 26 planes, flying nearly 100 flights per day.