More competition is a good thing, especially when it comes to an airline market that has been in the news in recent years for major mergers between carriers. At least that’s how I see it, as someone who loves to fly—and get a good deal at the same time. So it was welcome news to hear low-fare carrier Spirit Airlines announce this week that they will be adding new service to the Twin Cities beginning later in the year.
Spirit Airlines will begin offering nonstop service from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Houston’s George Bush International Airport and the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington International Airport. The service will include one daily flight to each market, operating from May 1, 2014 through November 1, 2014.
In the press release accompanying the announcement, Jeff Hamiel, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, praised the move. “I am pleased Spirit Airlines continues to explore new markets from Minneapolis-St. Paul, providing a new, low-fare alternative for travelers,” he said. “This new service to Baltimore/Washington and Houston not only gives people in the Twin Cities a chance to explore popular destinations on the nation’s eastern and southern coasts, but also for residents of those regions to come and see what Minnesota has to offer.”
Spirit Airlines first began its service in the Twin Cities in May 2012, with nonstop service to Las Vegas and Chicago O’Hare. The airlines “modern fleet configuration” (read: packed in tighter than other carriers) allows the airline to pass on efficiency savings to its customers. Nevertheless, the carrier has come to be known for charging fees for everything. So plan accordingly.
And speaking of airline mergers, one may be soon impacting service to the Twin Cities. The Star Tribune recently reported that American Airlines will drop its nonstop service to New York and Washington, D.C., later this year. In approving the merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways, the Department of Justice required the airline to divest slots and gates at key airports across the country to low cost airlines. For the Twin Cities, that means American will discontinue three daily departures to Reagan National and four daily flights to New York’s LaGuardia.