Spirit cuts routes this winter, including service at Southwest Florida International

Laura Layden
Fort Myers News-Press
A number of Spirit flights were cancelled Monday at Southwest Florida International Airport and other airports across the United States due to what the airline said were "a series of weather and operational challenges" over the weekend.

Facing myriad challenges, Spirit Airlines has cut routes from its schedule this winter.

That includes service to and from Southwest Florida International Airport.

The budget-friendly airline has temporarily dropped 37 routes from its network, starting in January.

Airline Weekly first reported the news based on a recent schedule update — and a confirmation by the carrier.

Florida airports are among the hardest hit, including Southwest Florida International, which is losing seven routes.

The eliminated routes offered service between Fort Myers and Windsor Locks, Connecticut; Baltimore, Maryland; Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Philadelphia and Saint Louis, Missouri.

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In an email, Victoria Moreland, a spokeswoman for Southwest Florida International, said all of those routes were seasonal and all of those markets are served by "one or more other airlines" in Fort Myers, "so travelers should not be impacted."

Other airports in Florida seeing notable cuts include Fort Lauderdale, with six, Tampa, with eight, and Miami, with three, according to reports by Airline Weekly and other national media.

Dozens of would-be passengers on Spirit Airlines stand in a line seeking information on when they could fly out of Fort Myers.  Flight delays and cancelations attributed to weather conditions forced cancellation of dozens of planes.

A spokesperson for Spirit could not immediately be reached for comment. 

The company has not shared the reasons for the cuts.

MSN and The Points Guy, a travel website and blog, suggested they're likely due to "slowing demand, supply chain issues and operational hiccups."

In October, Spirit Airlines shareholders accepted a $3.8 billion buyout offer from JetBlue Airways, but the deal still faces regulatory and legal challenges.

According to MSN, upset customers and flight attendants have joined forces to sue JetBlue and Spirit, in an attempt to block the merger. The group argues the combination could create a monopoly and lessen competition, resulting in higher fares.

How the merger would impact air service in Southwest Florida, if it indeed happens, remains unclear. It's just "too soon," Moreland said.

Currently, the airport provides nonstop service to 57 destinations through 14 air carriers.