Frontier and Spirit Airlines announce merger

Photo (c) Angel Di Bilio - Getty Images

The deal creates a formidable combination, says one industry expert

Budget carriers Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines are merging into what officials hope will be America’s most competitive ultra-low fare airline.

The union brings with it some great upsides for travelers if all goes according to plan. In an announcement, the companies project that consumers will save a billion dollars annually and have more flights to small- and mid-sized cities. By the time the ink dries on the deal, the combined power will get Frontier/Spirit into 145 markets across the U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America.

A name for the new combined entity is still up in the air. A Frontier spokesperson said a brand name won’t be determined “for some time. The new Frontier/Spirit combination should be formidable when it comes to fares -- especially at a time when they are expected to rise

“Competition between airlines is the single biggest determinant of how many airlines travelers will see on a given route. If the Frontier-Spirit merger (assuming it's approved by regulators) results in a consolidated airline that flies fewer routes, higher profits for the airline will mean more expensive fares for Americans,” Scott Keyes, Founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told ConsumerAffairs. 

“But if the new airline remains aggressive in its route network—as both airlines have historically been—and puts more international routes on the schedule, we could see cheaper flights across the board, even for consumers who never fly budget carriers. We've been living in the Golden Age of Cheap Flights since 2015, thanks in large part to budget airlines forcing full-service airlines to slash their fares. With today's news, the best case scenario for consumers is a stronger, larger budget airline that can compete even more with U.S. legacy carriers.”

More jobs and greener airlines

Combining forces will have some other positive upsides too. For one thing, the new company will add 10,000 direct jobs by 2026. It is also ordering 350 new energy-efficient Airbus A320neo jets that will supposedly make the new combined company the youngest and greenest airline.

“This combination is all about growth, opportunities and creating value for everyone – from our Guests to our Team Members to the flying public at large,” said Mac Gardner, Chairman of the Board of Spirit Airlines.

“We’re a perfect fit – our businesses share similar values, including our longstanding commitment to affordable travel. At the same time, we have complementary footprints and fleets, including one of the youngest and greenest fleets worldwide. Together, we will be even more competitive for our Guests and our Team Members, and we are confident we can deliver on the benefits of this combination to consumers.”

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