In a big blow, Spirit Airlines is ending flights from Manchester airport

Spirit Airlines cited ongoing operational difficulties following the recall of Pratt & Whitney GTF engines.

Spirit Airlines cited ongoing operational difficulties following the recall of Pratt & Whitney GTF engines. Wilfredo Lee / AP


Monitor staff

Published: 02-23-2024 8:39 AM

Modified: 02-23-2024 8:10 PM

Just three days after a new airline said it would be starting service at Manchester-Boston regional Airport, Spirit Airlines says it is suspending service, partly because it isn’t selling enough tickets.

The company said it would suspend service to Orlando, its only year-round operation from Manchester, and its seasonal connection to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as of May 7. In a statement, the company cited “ongoing operational constraints related to Pratt & Whitney GTF engine availability and seasonal demand for our (Manchester) flights.” It left open the possibility of resuming seasonal service next year.

Pratt & Whitney, one of the world’s major manufacturers of jet engines, recalled  its engines last   year due to safety  concerns and  has been slow to replace them.

Partly because of this, Spirit has been struggling in recent months. It has stopped service to 10 cities in South and Central America over the past year, which has sharply cut its traffic through a number of U.S. cities. The Manchester announcement is its first announced ending of service to a U.S. city.

The suspension at Manchester is doubly painful because Spirit has added 10 departures daily from Logan International Airport in Boston. Manchester’s airport has long struggled with being in the shadow of much larger Logan Airport and over the years has seen a number of airlines shift their traffic there.

Spirit Airlines began service at Manchester in October 2021, marking the first new airline at the airport in 17 years. Its arrival was seen as a hopeful sign after a decade of traffic decline caused partly by consolidation in the airline industry.

Earlier this week, Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines said it would start once-a-week flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul from Manchester in August. This followed the arrival of Avelo Airlines last June.

Spirit, Avelo and Sun Country are all considered low-cost carriers and one possibility for Manchester’s future involves concentrating on that segment. Spirit’s departure casts a shadow on the idea.

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Getting a boost from cost-cutting airlines would be deja vu because it was the 1998 arrival of Southwest, at the time the leading low-cost carrier, which launched a decade of strong growth for the airport. More than 4 million passengers used Manchester in 2005, but just 1.3 million did in 2023.