• WE'VE GOT SPIRIT: Low-cost Spirit Airlines to offer flights out of Charlotte

    By: Mark Barber

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Airport officials announced Tuesday morning that Spirit Airlines will begin offering flights out of Charlotte, the latest North Carolina location for the low-cost airline.

    Spirit will add daily direct-service flights -- starting June 20 -- to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Newark and Baltimore.

    Some flights start as cheap as $74.

    Judy Dunn and her husband live in south Florida, but they said they drove 9 1/2 half hours to Charlotte to see their daughter because round-trip flights were too expensive.

    “Hopefully the price will go down," Dunn said.

    Fliers in Charlotte could see benefits because bringing in a low-cost airline often pressures bigger airlines, like American Airlines, to lower their prices.

    “One of the problems with flying out of Charlotte Douglas is it’s so incredibly expensive,” said traveler Omar Parkes. “I’m hoping that with the introduction of Spirit Airlines that will lend it to bringing the prices down to make it more competitive.”

    Brent Cagle, the aviation director at Charlotte Douglas, thinks the new competition from Spirit will shake up ticket prices.

    Currently, Charlotte Douglas is often more expensive compared to cities like Raleigh because American Airlines controls about 90 percent of the flights in Charlotte.

    “Generally speaking, in any industry, competition is good for prices. It’s good for the consumer,” Cagle said.

    Spirit Airlines said its low prices in other cities have already led other airlines to drop their ticket prices by as much as 35 percent. Spirit also said that if there is enough demand for the four new flights in Charlotte, it could add another four to six flights and that Las Vegas would likely be added as one of those next cities.

    Charlotte Douglas officials told Channel 9 the new flights offered by Spirit are just the start. 

    “We do expect to have more of these kinds of announcements, new carriers and new service, because as the region grows we expect to have competition increase,” Cagle said.

    Charlotte is now the fourth location in the state that Spirit will fly out of, joining Raleigh-Durham, Asheville and Greensboro.

    The new Spirit flights will operate out of the newly expanded Concourse A.

    Passengers can already start to book those flights here.

    The Florida-based airline -- which operates more than 600 flights a day -- is the latest low-cost airline to add flights to Charlotte, joining Mexican carrier Volaris which offers flights to Guadalajara.

    American Airlines operates roughly 90 percent of the flights at the airport but Spirit Airlines' Vice President of Network Planning, John Kirby, said the airline is focused on attracting a different customer than American.

    "It's really focused on leisure customers, not business customers," he said.

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