New York LaGuardia airport is encumbered by a perimeter rule which prevents most long-distance flights. But there is one exception that Spirit Airlines is taking advantage of to launch an interesting pair of new routes.
Spirit Airlines Launches Nonstop Service Between New York LGA And Both Los Angeles + San Juan
Spirit Airlines today announced it would commence a new flight between New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Los Angeles (LAX) starting on June 12, 2021. It will also launch service between LGA and San Juan (SJU) starting on April 17, 2021. Both new flights will only run on Saturdays.
What makes these routes interesting? Can you name any other carriers that operate nonstop between LaGuardia and the West Coast or Puerto Rico? The answer is no because flights to and from LGA are restrained by a 1984 perimeter rule, that remains in effect.
Originally introduced to limit traffic and noise pollution while encouraging longhaul operations out of New York Kennedy (JFK) and Newark (EWR), flights over 1,500 miles are prohibited to/from LGA.
LGA Perimeter Rule Exceptions
But there are two exceptions.
First, Denver is an exception as an existing route when the perimeter rule was introduced. Second, the rule does not apply on Saturdays. The rationale is that Saturday is the slowest travel day of the week and without business travelers, loosening the rule helps airlines keep slots occupied and planes full.
The distance between LAX and LGA is 2,469 miles while the distance between LGA and SJU is 1,608 miles.
Over the years, other carriers have experimented with Saturday-only transcontinental service, though it has been several years since we’ve seen service.
One Mile at a Time wonders why more airlines don’t add more Saturday-only service to LGA. Could it be that balancing slots at JFK and LGA is too complicated? Is it about managing expectations?
Either could be the case. Fundamentally, airlines simply did not see the business case for such flights or they would have added them. While likely not critical, I also think (at least prior to the pandemic) these longer flights required different catering, which may have been a logistical burden.
The precise schedule of the new Spirit SJU/LAX↔LGA service has not been announced, though Spirit expects the new schedule to be loaded later this week. While these Saturday-only flights have not worked in the past, we are now in a whole new era.
Will Spirit’s Saturday-only service beyond the LGA perimeter be successful?
image: Spirit Airlines