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Flights will continue as Spirit readies to close Atlantic City airport crew base

  • Transportation

Spirit Airlines announced Monday it will close its crew base at Atlantic City International Airport in September.

While Atlantic City will no longer serve as home to 157 pilots and flight attendants, "scheduled service at ACY will continue to operate as planned now and in the future," a spokesman assured BreakingAC.

Spirit is currently the only airline operating scheduled service out of Atlantic City International. The discount carrier is popular with local travelers flying to vacation destinations. It flies to Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach in Florida and Myrtle Beach, S.C., according to the airport’s flight listings.

In March, Spirit and fellow discount carrier JetBlue scrapped their proposed $3.8 billion merger after a federal judge blocked the deal on the grounds it would have hurt consumers by reducing competition in the airline industry.

Atlantic City International is currently Spirit’s home base for 157 pilots and flight attendants who begin and end their shifts there. However, a spokesperson said the airline “has reached the difficult decision” to close the home base.

“Over the past several years, our flight schedule from Atlantic City (ACY) has gradually decreased to an average of eight to 10 daily departures, depending on the season,” the spokesperson said. “Moreover, half of this flying is to our largest crew bases in Florida.”

The company “is actively evaluating opening a new crew base in the Northeast to provide coverage from one of our larger cities, and we hope to be able to finalize a new crew base in the near future,” Spirit said in a statement. “ACY has been a great partner of ours as we’ve served the community for over 30 years, and we look forward to continuing to serve ACY and our guests who love the convenience and affordability of our service for many years to come.”

The news that Spirit will close its crew base at the Atlantic City airport comes as the airline announced it reached an agreement with Airbus to defer all aircraft on order that are scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2025 through the end of 2026.

They will now come in 2030 to 2031.

As a result of the grounded aircraft and the Airbus deferral, Spirit said it would furlough about 260 pilots effective Sept. 1.

This left many wondering what would happen to Atlantic City's relatively small airport.

The agreement with Airbus will improve Spirit's liquidity position by approximately $340 million over the next two years, the company said in announcement Monday. There are no changes to the aircraft on order with Airbus that are scheduled to be delivered in 2027 to 2029.  

Spirit is one of more than 40 airlines and lessors affected by Pratt & Whitney's GTF engine problems. The company disclosed in July that several parts for its PW1100G-JM geared turbofan engines were manufactured with contaminated metal powder that makes the parts more susceptible to corrosion and cracks. 

The issue required hundreds of planes with the engines to be grounded for inspections, with potentially thousands of engines being impacted.

Meanwhile, Spirit's President and CEO Ted Christie said the Airbus agreement "is an important part of Spirit's comprehensive plan to bolster profitability and strengthen our balance sheet."

"Deferring these aircraft gives us the opportunity to reset the business and focus on the core airline while we adjust to changes in the competitive environment," he said. "In addition, enhancing our liquidity provides us additional financial stability as we position the company for a return to profitability. We would like to thank our partners at Airbus for their continued support and commitment to the long-term success of Spirit." 

The Airbus amendment also defers by two years the exercise dates for optional aircraft included in Spirit's purchase agreement. There is no change to the total number of aircraft on order or Spirit options for additional aircraft. 


author

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Sunday, May 19, 2024
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