Spirit Airlines Placing Huge Airbus Aircraft Order

Filed Under: Spirit

Spirit Airlines and Airbus have today signed a memorandum of understanding for a massive aircraft order. The order is more or less exactly what you’d expect.

Spirit Airlines Orders 100 A320neo aircraft

Spirit Airlines intends to purchase 100 new Airbus A320neo family aircraft, together with the option to purchase a further 50 aircraft.

The plan is for the order to include a mix of A319, A320, and A321 models, and they’re expected to be delivered through 2027.

Spirit Airlines already has one of the youngest fleets in the US, as their planes are only an average of 5.6 years old. Currently Spirit Airlines’ fleet consists of 138 Airbus A320 family aircraft, including:

  • 31 A319s
  • 64 A320s
  • 13 A320neos
  • 30 A321s

Spirit A320

As you can see, the airline already has some A320neos in their fleet, and they have a further 55 A320neos on order prior to this order:

  • They plan to take delivery of seven of those A320neos this year
  • They plan to take delivery of the remaining 48 A320neos in 2020 and 2021

Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie had the following to say about this aircraft order:

“This new order represents another milestone for Spirit. The additional aircraft will be used to support Spirit’s growth as we add new destinations and expand our network across the U.S, Latin America and the Caribbean. We look forward to working with our valued partners at Airbus to finalize our agreement.”

This Order Is Exactly What You’d Expect

Spirit Airlines ordering more A320 family aircraft is totally expected. Spirit is all about consistency and fleet commonality, and keeping a fleet of just A320 family aircraft helps with that (in terms of crew training, spare costs, fleet planning, etc.).

There have been rumors for a while about Spirit placing a big Airbus order, and in the back of my mind I was wondering if they might consider the A220, which is a somewhat smaller plane. Given Spirit’s focus on high density and high capacity aircraft I’m not surprised they didn’t choose that option, but I figured there was a chance.

Similarly, I wondered if they might consider the A321XLR, which is the longer range version of the A321neo. There could have been potential for that if they wanted to eventually expand to Hawaii, Europe, deeper into South America, etc.

Heck, even Frontier ordered some A321XLRs, and they’re an ultra low cost carrier in the US as well.

Frontier A321XLR

It looks like Spirit decided against that, though down the line they could always modify their order.

Bottom Line

Spirit Airlines intends to place a firm order for 100 A320neo family aircraft, with a further 50 options. They’re sticking entirely with the A320 family, which isn’t surprising given their desire for consistency.

With this order, Spirit has a total of 138 aircraft currently, 55 firm orders through 2021, and then 100-150 additional orders once this is finalized.

However, in the back of my mind I was hoping there was an A220 or A321XLR order somewhere in there, but that’s not too surprising.

What do you make of Spirit Airlines’ Airbus order?

  1. I know this has nothing to do with a lot of this article but just imagine 100 A320 family jets side by side. That’s a crazy number, jeez. It would take all day to walk past all those jets if they all got delivered on the same day.

  2. I’m not in the business but is there anything more “fake” than aircraft orders? Orders get cancelled, changed, delayed all the time.

    And I think it is a bad idea to put all your eggs in one basket. If there is a systemwide issue with a plane, then in this case, Spirit would essentially be grounded.

    Southwest has gotten away with it with 737s (I think that is correct?). A prolong grounding of the 737 MAX which wasn’t that widely in use (at least not yet), has caused a lot of issues. Now if an airline had nothing but those aircraft, or an entire fleet of one type of engine? Seems like asking for trouble.

    Maybe it is the engineer in me. Always have backup plans and never go all in with anything since there are few guarantees in life, especially with technology.

  3. Random thought on Spirit. Just flew them for the first time on an A320 (or A319, can’t remember) with a toddler. Those two round-trip tickets with seat assignments were about 2/3 the cost of one round-trip on American, and this was between two AA hubs. Flights were just fine. The legroom was surprisingly good, and I’m 5’10. Even the $3 price for a can of Coke wasn’t outrageous. I’ll gladly try them again if the price is right.

  4. More expansion, means more competition in the US!

    The thing I don’t understand about spirit is when booking flights a few months in advance, Spirit is always the more expensive than Delta or United.

    I hope they open a focus city at EWR!

  5. So with Southwest expansion stalled because of the max grounding is this Spirit going after Southwest with a similar (but all airbus) strategy ?

  6. Spirit actually advertises an “all-Airbus fit fleet” on their Web site. With Boeing’s reputation having been destroyed by both the 787 and 737 Max problems, airlines are smart to advertise their all-Airbus fleets, which sends a message to customers that the airline is both more reliable and safer than other airlines flying Boeing planes.

  7. @rich, the A319/320/321 models have been around for a long time, so I think it is highly unlikely (of course it is always possible) that something which would ground the whole fleet would come up. Sure, the neo is new, so you never know, but that’s just a small part of the fleet.

  8. this is a good, but very bold, move for Spirit. They seem to be growing leaps and bounds very quickly, they are added lots and lots of destinations. I have flown them domestically and most recently internationally, and mostly on newer planes and they are clean, comfortable for the short-ride, have more legroom then some legacy carriers, and are generally efficient (you can check out the review on my blog). I read somewhere that Spirit said that they would be added wifi and USB ports (and hopefully won’t charge to access at least the USB ports) on the newer planes so that seems like a positive step.

    This order seems really ambitious and hope it works out for Spirit; and if the order does go through, that will be a lot of yellow around the airport

  9. Flew on a 320neo with them a couple weeks ago. Splurged for the BFS, and you know what? It was totally fine for a 2 hour nonstop flight home after a bachelor party weekend. Nice, quiet plane, and the FAs even made an inflight announcement to embarrass the bachelor. It was my first Spirit rodeo, and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again. This coming from a guy who’s currently DL PM, AA PP, and SW A-List.

  10. Running a fleet of a single family of aircraft always takes a little bit of the risk we say with Southwest getting hammered by the 737 max issues. But for an airline that focuses heavily on cutting costs wherever it can, there’s little room for handling multiple aircraft types.

    For this reason, a large order of a320 family craft from Spirit/Frontier is of zero surprise over here.

  11. This would be one of the few A319neo orders for and airline that Airbus has got, most A319neo are Airbus Corporate Jets ACJ. Most A320 orders are the A320 with the A321 likely to become the main type sold.

  12. A220s? You must be joking. You probably recall that the A220 is a renamed Bombardier C-series and has nothing to do with the A320 family at all. So that would basically just mean involving a new manufacturer and thus a lot of extra maintenance costs, competence building, logistics… basically all the stuff they wanted to avoid.In that respect, the new generation A330 would have made more sense, especially if they want to fly deeper into South America, Hawaii, maybe even Europe.

    I fully agree with you about the A321. I would have expected them to order at least a few of those!

  13. I suspect the final aircraft delivered won’t reflect the types ordered. Once Spirit has reserved production slots the mix of A319/A320/A321neo/LR/ XLR can still be changed so long as Airbus hasn’t started production. The main thing is that Spirit has secured aircraft. The A319 neo has good range and depending at what thrust level the engines are ordered at good takeoff run.

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