What does Spirit-Frontier merger mean for South Florida?

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – In a team-up that could be a game-changer, Frontier Airlines and Spirit are planning a $6.6 billion merger, creating a budget carrier that would become the fifth largest airline in the United States, behind American, Delta, United and Southwest.

What it all means for Miramar-based Spirit and South Florida air travel remains to be seen.

Reps from Spirit say their new headquarters is still being built in Dania Beach and that, for now, it’s business as usual.

Airline analyst Brett Snyder says Spirit and Denver-based Frontier have been struggling with losses the past two years as air travel plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“‘Finally,’ was my initial reaction,” Snyder said. “They’re both ultra-low-cost carriers, which means their goal is to drive down their costs as low as possible.”

Travel delays and worker shortages have plagued airlines, particularly in South Florida. Frontier and Spirit also had some of the industry’s worst customer service ratings, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

“Something that’s been top of mind for a lot of travelers is what happens when something goes wrong,” Snyder said. “The combined heft of these two means that there will be more options if a flight is canceled or delayed.”

The companies have yet to say what brand they’ll fly under or who would lead management, but they say the combination would bring two airlines that have very low-cost fares together for good.

Snyder said that with both airlines already having a presence in South Florida that “I don’t think we’re going to see any reductions” at Miami International Airport or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The merger must meet federal approval, and a spokesman for Spirit says they will continue to operate as separate companies until the regulatory review process is complete — and that they’re currently in search of more employees.

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.