MIAMI – After its competitors JetBlue (B6) and Southwest (WN) announced their South Florida expansion, ULCC Spirit (NK) is joining the process by adding Miami International Airport (MIA) into its destination list.

The expansion goes between October 6 and November 18, when the airline will be adding 31 flights a day to 30 destinations to and from MIA.

This effort is to complement NK’s Fort Lauderdale (FLL) base, adding more options for travelers to access the region’s beaches and other attractions, as well as to establish the Spirit brand among local customers.

Spirit Airlines N919NK Airbus A320-271neo. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

MIA Becoming ‘More Accessible’ for Low-Cost Carriers

The airline is building a new $250m corporate headquarters adjacent to FLL, and it has been expanding its share of carried passenger in the Miami area, where it now has a 14.1 percent of traffic in all three airports that cover the region.

South Florida has been a champion for airlines in the post-pandemic recovery.

“Both JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, which for years focused their respective South Florida operations at the nearby Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach airports, have added Miami to their maps since the crisis began,” aviation portal Airline Weekly reported, adding that Emirates (EK) will replace FLL with MIA starting in July.

A reason why LCCs have been avoiding operating at MIA was the fact airport fees were too high. “The average cost per enplanement (CPE) was US$19.23 per passenger at Miami compared to $6.89 per passenger at Fort Lauderdale in 2019, Federal Aviation Administration data show,” the report stated.

Since then, MIA has restructured its fees to attract more carriers, which resulted in a more attractive and affordable environment for low-cost airlines.

With that in mind, Spirit spokesperson Field Sutton thinks this expansion is a natural process. “We don’t view this as an assault on Miami. We just view this as a natural extension of the course Spirit is on,” Sutton said.

There are 20 domestic and 10 international destinations that NK will be operating from MIA, including Baltimore (BWI), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), and Bogota (BOG).

Featured image: Spirit Airlines N913NK Airbus A320Neo. Photo: Brad Tisdel/Airways