Spirit Airlines is poised to grow in Orange Country, California after it secured a pair of new slots at John Wayne Airport (SNA). The budget carrier will begin service this month and has already announced an additional new route.
How Spirit Airlines Gained Access To SNA
John Wayne is a unique airport. It is extremely popular, but flights are limited, though not in the traditional sense. Typically slot controls refer to carrier ownership, but as Edward Russell notes, that is not the case at SNA. Instead, the number of annual passengers at SNA is capped in a tenuous compromise with local residents over noise pollution.
The effect is the same: incumbent carriers are favored and new entrants find gaining access difficult. But 2020 is a unique year and with other airlines trimming schedules across the board, Spirit finally found a way in.
New Spirit Airlines Service To SNA
On November 17, 2020, Spirit Airlines will launch service from SNA to Oakland (OAK) [twice daily] and Las Vegas (LAS) [once daily]. Both routes are also operated by Southwest Airlines. Now Spirit has obtained two more slots and will continue its assault on Southwest.
Competing directly with American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines will add new service between SNA and Phoenix (PHX) on January 6, 2021. Spirit will also add a second daily flight to Las Vegas.
While SNA will never be a big city for Spirit, the airline sees opportunity for growth on key routes. Spirit Vice President of Network Planning John Kirby noted, “It’s not going to be a big market for us” but added “I see a lot of opportunity…It’s a nice complement to our existing L.A. Basin portfolio.”
While this is a terrible time for airlines in general, it is a golden era for travelers willing to fly. The addition of Spirit Airlines in SNA will continue to put competitive pressure on fares and provide more options to consumers. My favorite thing about Spirit Airlines is when other airlines match…keep an eye on Southwest and American fares on head-to-head routes.
Will you fly Spirit Airlines out of Orange County?
image: Tomás Del Coro / Flickr