Spirit Airlines to begin Fort Lauderdale-Seattle route in April; pilots to picket Thursday

Attention, Seattle: Spirit Airlines is headed your way from Fort Lauderdale.

On Wednesday, the low-cost carrier said nonstop daily service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will begin April 12.

The new seasonal service, which will operate through Sept. 5, is part of its push to add service in more “cities in need” of low fares, the Miramar-based airline said.

But as it plots future growth, Spirit could face some growing pains and performance issues if a new contract agreement isn’t reached with its unionized pilots. On Thursday, members of the Spirit contingent of the Air Line Pilots Association International plan informational picketing outside company headquarters to demand a resumption of stalled contract talks.

The carrier also recently announced plans for new nonstop year-round service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Virginia’s Richmond International Airport starting March 15. It intends to launch nonstop service between its Fort Lauderdale hub and Ohio’s John Glenn Columbus International Airport on February 15.

In Wednesday’s announcement, Spirit said it will add year-round daily nonstop service between Orlando and Las Vegas starting April 12. And it will connect Tampa with Las Vegas and Los Angeles with similar service the same day.

Internationally, Spirit is planning to launch year-round non-stop service from Baltimore/Washington to Montego Bay, Jamaica on March 22, subject to final government approval.

Earlier this month, the Spirit pilots held a similar picketing event at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

In mid-September, the unionized group of approximately 1,600 Spirit pilots voted in favor of a strike in the event talks hit an impasse and they are released from federally supervised mediation.

The union has not requested a release from negotiations overseen by the National Mediation Board, an ALPA representative said Wednesday.

Spirit is the second-busiest carrier at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood with 21.6 percent of passenger traffic in 2017 through September, the latest airport data show.

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