FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Two of South Florida’s largest low-cost airlines are teaming up.
Spirit and Frontier announced they plan to merge later this year.
“This is going to make the fifth biggest airline in the US, that’s next to American, Delta, United and Southwest,” said David Slotnick, the senior online business reporter for the website “The Points Guy.”
He said if the merger goes through, that could lead to stronger competition with the larger airlines.
“This is a move to take on those big four. This is going to bring more competition to them and possibly drive fares lower with those mainline carriers,” Slotnick said.
The CEOs of the two airlines tell customers to expect a billion dollars in savings, and 1,000-plus flights to 145 destinations in 19 countries. Between both airlines, 350 new aircraft are on order and they plan to add new routes to underserved communities, and promise more reliable service.
Last summer, Spirit suffered a meltdown that lasted days, leaving customers stranded. Slotnick said forming a larger airline could help.
“This is the kind of thing where maybe there’d be able to recover more easily now because they have more resources, less overlap,” he said.
Passengers are looking for a better experience on the ground and in the air.
“Most important is if they’re on time and customer service,” said passenger Ashley Turner.
“Do you find that right now?” asked CBS4’s Ted Scouten.
“No,” she said, “actually my flight is delayed!”
Passengers’ big demand is low fares.
“I just hope it makes flying cheaper,” said passenger Mariana Alvarez.
“I do travel a lot so, I mainly use Spirit a lot because of price,” said traveler Randy Frederick.
Slotnick says if Spirit and Frontier want to keep their customers, they have to keep rock bottom prices.
“Imagine flying Spirit right now if the fares were the same as American, or closer to American, you’d probably just fly American instead. They can’t risk losing their customers that way,” Slotnick said.
This proposed merger still requires regulatory approval in Washington. The two airlines are hoping this could be wrapped up by the end of the year.
In the meantime, there’s no word where the merged airline would be based or what name it would fly under. For the time being, everything will remain the same.