Spirit Airlines is downshifting on expansion this year, slowing the pace of growth to new cities and building depth in the many new markets that have joined its route map in recent years.
Baltimore/Washington (BWI), while not a recent addition, is a key market where the South Florida-based low-cost carrier sees opportunity for more depth in 2020. Spirit grew seats by more than 22% year-over-year at the airport last year, according to Cirium schedule data, adding new flights to places like Austin (AUS), Charlotte (CLT) and Nashville (BNA).

“As we’ve added new cities to our network, we’ve found that Baltimore is a natural plug for those,” Nick Bartolotta, Spirit’s director of network planning. This year, he added, the airline will focus on “building more depth” at the airport.

That depth is already on final approach in Baltimore. Spirit will increase to four flights daily between BWI and both Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO) in April, the airline announced Friday. It will also add a second BWI-San Juan Airport (SJU) flight in May.

In addition, Spirit will add new service between Baltimore and San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL), on May 21, 2020. It will offer a daily flight on an Airbus A320 family aircraft catering to the large Salvadoran population in the greater Washington D.C. area.

The San Salvador announcement comes less than a month after Frontier Airlines unveiled the same route. The Denver-based discounter will also offer daily service with flights beginning June 21, 2020.
Asked about the timing of the San Salvador announcement, Bartolotta said there was no “emotional response,” and added that Frontier likely saw the same demand data as Spirit.
Spirit plans to grow capacity by 17-19% year-over-year in 2020, when it is scheduled to take delivery of more than 20 new Airbus A320neos.