DENVER (KDVR) — Spirit Airlines said Thursday it will no longer provide flights in or out of Denver International Airport starting next year.
The airline said its final day with travel at DIA will be Jan. 9, 2024.
FOX31 spoke with Jay Bloomfield, a Spirit customer for more than a decade. He flies Spirit at least four times a year and had a trip booked in late January, but now he has to scramble to find other options.
“I go often to Fort Lauderdale to visit my mother,” Bloomfield said.
He planned to save money by booking nearly five months in advance.
“I booked my trip on Oct. 12 because it’s spring break, and it’s hard to get them during spring break,” he said. “Thursday, I got an email from Spirit Airlines saying it’s canceled.”
Spirit cites ‘engine availability’ in Denver decision
A quick check on Spirit’s website shows no flights are available after Jan. 9.
“It’s a big problem for me, and now I’m going to have to spend a little bit more money to get an equivalent-like service,” Bloomfield said.
According to a statement, Spirit Airlines will offer refunds to customers with reservations after Jan 9.
“As we continue to learn more about how Pratt & Whitney’s GTF engine availability impacts our fleet and operations, we’re forced to make some tough choices. After considering those constraints and the underperformance of our routes through Denver International Airport (DEN), we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue service at the airport, effective Jan. 9, 2024,” the statement reads.
The airline told FOX31 that the change will affect three routes at DIA.
“Now I have to book another flight, which I want to do soon, and Frontier has not opened their schedule for March yet,” Bloomfield said.
Now with one less airline option, Bloomfield worries about the costs.
“I will be inconvenienced by Spirit leaving DIA. Now I have to spend more time on the computer finding an airline that meets my time schedule and budget,” Bloomfield said.
This isn’t the first time the airline discontinued its flights. It happened in 2004 and was revived in 2012.
Is JetBlue buying Spirit Airlines?
Spirit Airlines has been in the process of selling to JetBlue for $3.8 billion, but the Justice Department has sued to block that deal.
If JetBlue, the nation’s sixth largest airline, can buy Spirit, the seventh largest airline, it will leapfrog Alaska Airlines but still control less than 10% of the U.S. air travel market. It would remain far smaller than American, United, Delta or Southwest.
The New York carrier argues that it needs Spirit to bulk up and compete better against the bigger airlines. JetBlue touts itself as “one of the most disruptive and innovative companies in the history of the airline industry,” and says it can bring down fares if it can go head-to-head against the Big Four on more routes.
The Justice Department argues, however, that Spirit is the disruptive force that needs to be protected.
“Consumers are better off with an independent Spirit, not a JetBlue intent on removing seats from planes and charging higher fares,” government lawyers argued in their pre-trial brief. They say the harm will fall hardest on cost-conscious consumers.
JetBlue says the vacuum left by Spirit would be filled by growth from other discount airlines. The Justice Department says that is unlikely because all airlines, including the budget carriers, face limits to growth including shortages of planes and pilots.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.