US ultra low-fare carrier, Spirit Airlines, has announced it will expand its domestic to offering into Kansas City with the launch of five new routes this summer. The largest city in the US state of Missouri will be the carrier’s 56th destination and will be linked on a daily basis to Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston and Las Vegas from August 2014 bringing additional competition to city pairs already served by legacy and low-cost operators.
Spirit will introduce its ultra-low fare service to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Detroit's Metropolitan Airport, and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport from August 7, 2014, and service to Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, from August 8, 2014. Its five daily flights, all operated using Airbus A319 equipment, will introduce an additional 10,150 seats in and out of Kansas City International Airport each week giving it a 3.8 per cent capacity share based upon August flight schedules and positioning it as the seventh largest operator at the facility.
"Spirit Airlines' decision to add Kansas City to its rapidly expanding network is a testament to the strength of this region," said Mark VanLoh, director of aviation for the Kansas City Aviation Department. "Spirit has selected five key destinations from Kansas City that will benefit both leisure and business customers alike."
It will compete directly with American Airlines on the link to Dallas/Fort Worth International, Delta Air Lines and EV on the route to Detroit, EV to Houston and Southwest Airlines to Las Vegas, but it is the Chicago route that has the strongest competition with regular service by eight carriers: American Airlines and regional operators American Eagle, ExpressJet Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airlines, Shuttle America and SkyWest Airlines. Southwest Airlines also offers indirect competition with flights between Kansas City and Chicago Midway and Houston Hobby.
Despite the strong competition, Spirit Airlines’ management believes its business formula will enable it to generate strong demand on each of the five routes by attracting some of the existing passengers but also by further stimulating the market with its low-fare offering.
"We look forward to help customers traveling to or from the Kansas City area to save money with our ultra-low fares and optional services for a total price that is tough to beat" said Mark Kopczak, vice president, network planning, Spirit Airlines. "With our unique product, value-conscious travellers get to enjoy keeping more money in their pocket to spend on the good times when they get their destination."
The carrier already has a notable presence in each of the markets it will serve from Kansas City and this summer it will offer flights to 24 destinations from Dallas/Fort Worth, 19 destinations from Chicago O’Hare, 15 destinations from Detroit, 14 destinations from Las Vegas and eight destinations from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental.
In our analysis below we look in greater detail at the bi-directional O&D passenger demand on each of the five routes and how this has changed over the past five years. The busiest routes are the Kansas City – Chicago O’Hare and Kansas City – Las Vegas links with close to 300,000 O&D passengers per annum.