Spirit Airlines is pulling out of Denver, citing the “underperformance” of routes from the Mile High City and in so doing, handing victory to United Airlines and also to Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines, the three largest carriers at DEN.
Spirit Airlines Ends Denver Service As Of January 9, 2024
There is no doubt that Spirit Airlines disrupts markets…I just saw it again yesterday when looking at a trip to Chicago:
The problem, of course, is that Spirit Airlines is losing money during a period when other airlines are making money. That suggests Spirit’s business model, at least during this time, is not sustainable.
As it faces a fundamental problem with its business model and ongoing engine delivery issues from Pratt & Whitney for its new aircraft orders, Spirit Airlines will suspend all service to Denver as of January 9, 2024. Spirit told Live And Let’s Fly:
As we continue to learn more about how Pratt & Whitney’s GTF engine availability impacts our fleet and operations, we’re forced to make some tough choices. After considering those constraints and the underperformance of our routes through Denver International Airport (DEN), we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue service at the airport, effective Jan. 9, 2024.
We apologize to our Guests for any inconvenience and will offer refunds to those with reservations after this date. Thank you to Denver’s Department of Aviation for their partnership and support over the years.
Spirit Airlines began serving in Denver in May 2012 and its market share at DEN has dropped over the last few years from about 2% prior to the pandemic to 0.8% in 2023. In fact, Spirit has only a single gate at DEN in the C Concourse.
Passengers impacted by this decision will receive a full refund, though that may not help if forced to pay much higher prices on another carrier for alternate travel.
The decision to pull out of Denver is music to the ears of United Airlines, the largest carrier at Denver, as well as Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines, all of which have a far larger presence at DEN.
Carriers rarely can shrink their way to growth and this news is sad not only for Spirit Airlines, but for the consumers who took advantage of low fares via Denver. But as Spirit Airlines may quickly be realizing, when something is too good to be true, it rarely is sustainable. The days of cheap fares may be coming to and end and Spirit Airlines pulling out of Denver is but one further datapoint.
top image: Denver International Airport