Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bare Fare: Spirit Airlines now flying daily from Niagara Falls International Airport

The airline that boasts of having invented no frills "bare fares" has started flying daily to Orlando, Florida, out of the Niagara Falls International Airport.

Spirit Airlines recently began offering a daily flight from the airport, with fares that average around $50 one way. The service is offered on some of the newest planes in the industry, according to the airline.

"Among the major airlines, we have the youngest and fittest fleet out there," said Paul Berry, a spokesman for Spirit Airlines. "We're bringing in a new plane a month," he added, noting that in the last three years, the airlines has added more than 30 airplanes. 

Spirit, a former air freight company opened in 1990, Berry said, changed its business model in 2006 when they adopted the "bare fare" passenger model which was having some success in Europe. The concept allows passengers to pay only for the services they require.

"We want to give people the power to choose what they pay for in their inflight experience," Berry said. "We basically give them a very low price that covers the seat and a personal item." Everything else, from carry-on luggage to checked bags, to inflight food and drink service is extra. 

"Our average price is just over 50 dollars for one way," he said. "On average, according to the Dept. of Transportation, Spirit's fares are 40 percent less than other airlines and even after you pay for bags and seat assignments on Spirit, we're still 30 percent less," Berry said. 

The daily schedule will bring "new money" into the airport, according to William Vanecek, director of aviation at the airport, who said that while the airport is always open everyday, previously there have not been flights every day.

The daily flights will draw more passenger traffic, which will bring in more money from parking and concessions, Vanecek added.

Currently, there are two airlines flying out of the airport, Spirit and Allegiant, and both typically offer flights to Florida.  

When asked about the number of passengers the airport could comfortably service, Vanecek said "We've only touched the very tip of the iceberg. We could easily do upwards of half a million passengers if we had the flights ... We always are on the lookout for more airlines."

Last year, 130,000 passengers used the airport, and Vanecek said he expects to get in the neighborhood of 200,000 this year. 

Both the Niagara Falls airport and the Buffalo International Airport are operated by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and overseen by Vanecek, who says that when the Falls airport attracts new carriers that don't fly out of Buffalo, it's good for the region and added that the Niagara Falls International Airport is "doing well for an airport of its size and its location."

Vanecek added that nearly 80 percent of Falls airport passengers come from Ontario. "The beauty of that is you now have people bringing in money from not only outside of the state but from outside of the country, and spending it here."


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