SANTA ANA, Calif. — Spirit Airlines is bringing their low fare service to Orange County.
Spirit officials announced Tuesday that beginning in November, the airline will begin offering nonstop flights from John Wayne Airport (JWA) in Santa Ana to Oakland and Las Vegas.
The move to JWA is part of the Florida-based company’s expansion efforts throughout the Golden State. Last year, Spirit began servicing Burbank and Sacramento airports. The company already has a presence in the major airports in the state's core markets, including Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland.
“Spirit touched down over 20 years ago in the state of California, and we rapidly grew,” Spirit's Vice President of Network Planning John Kirby said during a press conference at JWA. “We bring a very unique brand of product. We do very, very, low fares, which is what we’re known for. We offer signature customer service, which [when] you try us, you’ll really enjoy and also, we’re one of the best operational airlines with on time performance.”
Kirby said beginning November 17, Spirit will offer customers two daily flights from Santa Ana to Oakland International Airport and a daily single flight to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport. In addition, Kirby said, Spirit will offer single-stop, round-trip connections to 15 major U.S. cities including Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.
The company has already begun selling tickets for its new route on its website. A one-way flight from JWA to Las Vegas or Oakland starts at $38. Unlike its rival airlines, Spirit sells a base bargain fare and charges fees for seat upgrades, additional bags, and other amenities.
JWA Public Affairs Manager Deanna Thompson told Spectrum News 1 that this new partnership with Spirit would provide additional travel options for their passengers. Spirit will be part of JWA's 10 airline carriers, including Southwest, United, and Frontier Airlines. Thompson did not disclose the terms of the partnership agreement between Spirit and JWA.
“The addition of a new carrier and additional flights to Las Vegas and Oakland means even more convenience [for our guests],” Thompson said.
Spirit’s arrival to JWA comes as the airport is experiencing a drop in passengers due to the travel restrictions and overall reduction in tourism caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. In July, JWA had 239,120 passengers, a 74 percent decline from last year’s 945,962 passengers, according to the airport's latest data.
Thompson said JWA is currently at 25 or 30 percent of the average capacity for this time of year. “Passenger volume is steadily climbing, and we are optimistic that the trend will continue,” she said.
For Spirit, this is the latest business move for a company rebounding from the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus. Spirit CEO Ted Christie told USA Today in June that the company is experiencing an uptick in travel demand and plans to add more flights in the future.
"With more than 20 years in California, Spirit was looking to continue its growth in the Golden State with the addition of this sixth destination, SNA," Spirit Airlines spokesperson Sabrina Gaggia said in an emailed statement to Spectrum News 1. "With flights to Los Angeles and Burbank, this new route serves as an expanded option for guests in the L.A. Basin. In essence, Spirit is very excited to be bringing low fares to a very popular and busy airport."