A Spirit Airlines plane takes off at La Guardia airport.
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Spirit Airlines said Tuesday it plans to open a crew base at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, a United Airlines hubs, the latest expansion as the discount company grows at major airports.
Spirit said it plans to have 150 pilots and 300 flight attendants based in Houston, starting this fall. The carrier and its rivals have had to shuffle staff to meet strong travel demand and improve reliability. Last summer, Spirit said thousands of flights were canceled over a 10-day period costing about 50 million dollars.
Establishing a crew facility in Houston, where the average now has 22 departures per day, means employees living in the area won’t have to commute from another city, a common practice in the industry air.
Spirit said it will open a maintenance facility in Houston. It had a maintenance facility in Detroit. The airline expects to end 2022 with a fleet of 197 Airbus narrow-body jets, after receiving 24 new planes this year.
The new base appeared in the context of the war for the Spirit. Low cost airline Frontier Airlines and Spirit announced plans to merge in February, but JetBlue Airways entered with a competitor’s all-cash buyout bid in April.
While Spirit has repeatedly turned down JetBlue, the airline has struggled to win shareholder support for the Frontier combination, according to Frontier, and has postponed an investor vote on that deal four times to continues to negotiate with both carriers, an indication that the Spirit-Frontier deal is Threatened. Most recently, it scheduled a vote for July 27.