Airlines

Spirit Airlines plans big Miami debut as airlines battle for Florida

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Key Points
  • Spirit Airlines is planning to expand into Miami International Airport later this year.
  • The airport is a major hub for American Airlines that dominates with more than half of the capacity there.
  • The move increases competition in Florida, which has been popular with tourists.
A Spirit Airlines jet comes in for a landing at McCarran International Airport on May 25, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Spirit Airlines is planning to expand to Miami International Airport later this year, increasing competition among airlines for Florida travelers.

Budget airline Spirit, based in Miramar, Florida, said late Tuesday that it plans to offer flights starting in October from 30 cities, including New York, Cleveland and Denver. Others include service to Cali and Medellin, Colombia, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Miami is a major hub for American Airlines, where the carrier has offered robust service to Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as other domestic and international destinations. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline accounts for more than 5,100 of scheduled Miami flights this month, about 55% of the total, according to aviation consulting firm Cirium.

Spirit isn't the only competitor to plot an expansion into Miami. Southwest Airlines last year unveiled plans to start service there as carriers looked for popular tourist destinations and took advantage of a lull in demand for many other destinations. United Airlines last year launched a host of point-to-point flights into Florida. Airlines' July capacity in the Sunshine State is the same as 2019, while capacity for the entire U.S. is set to be down next month by about 17% compared with two years ago, according to Airlines for America, an industry group.

June capacity at Miami International Airport is up 3% from 2019, according to Cirium data.

Spirit said it is not planning to reduce flying at its hub in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"We are the largest airline at FLL, and we intend to stay that way," Spirit said.