Spirit Airlines Enters San Antonio Market

SAT director Jesus Saenz speaking as John Kirby, VP of network planning at Spirit, watches on.
Credit: Spirit Airlines

By Aaron Karp and David Casey

Spirit Airlines will launch two routes from Routes Americas 2022 host San Antonio (SAT) later this year, marking the US ULCC’s return to the airport for the first time in more than a decade.

SAT will become Spirit’s newest market and the fourth airport it serves in Texas. From Nov. 17, the Florida-based airline will launch service from SAT to Routes World 2022 host Las Vegas (LAS) and Orlando (MCO). Both routes will be flown daily. Spirit is an all-Airbus A320 family aircraft operator.

Both Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines operate between SAT and LAS, while Southwest is the only airline flying the SAT-MCO route.

SAT director Jesus Saenz said passengers from the San Antonio area “can enjoy the sights and sounds of Las Vegas and have a fun time enjoying all Orlando has to offer. Also, more people in Florida and Nevada can come and see how special San Antonio is–with cheaper fares that are too good to pass up. It's a win-win.”

Spirit already serves Austin (AUS), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Houston Intercontinental (IAH) in Texas. “If you look at the growth of Dallas, Houston and Austin, San Antonio is the baby of the four, but we’re beginning to grow,” Saenz told Routes earlier this year.

Spirit, which is currently the subject of a bidding war between Frontier and JetBlue Airways, previously served SAT in 2008 with a flight to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) but pulled the route shortly afterwards.

The airline’s return to the SAT market comes days after greater:SATX, the San Antonio economic development agency, launched a new air service development fund designed to attract new nonstop routes to the city.

“The initial private sector investment of $3 million over two years with additional marketing and in-kind partnership will support added service to priority geographies within Europe and Canada as well as additional domestic destinations,” said Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president and CEO of greater:SATX.

More than 10 million passengers fly in and out of SAT each year and it is hoped that the number could increase to 18 million over the next 20 years. To support the growth, SAT is undergoing a $2.5 billion investment project.

The work includes construction of a new terminal and ground transportation center, parking garage, and terminal road realignment. SAT already has two projects underway to provide five new gates until the new terminal is complete.

In June, architecture and design firm Corgan was appointed to work on the designs for SAT’s new terminal C building, expected to be completed by 2028.