Spirit Airlines ‘Circling’ Its Way to Government Assistance

Spirit Airlines has updated its schedule and route offerings in order to ‘circle’ its way to compliance with the requirements of the CARES Act.

And, no, there’s nothing sneaky about it.

In order to continue with the payroll assistance funds it has already begun to receive from the federal government’s stimulus package, Spirit has to maintain its current level of service even though the demand for air travel has dropped 90 percent during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The airline initially asked to drop 14 cities from its list of destination but that requested was denied by the Department of Transportation. So, according to the aviation blog The Points Guy, it did the next best thing.

Spirit has begun using an age-old airline practice called “circling” in order to keep those 14 mostly smaller destinations as part of its route system. The practice is fairly simple – think of it as adding a stop to a formerly non-stop route.

For instance, The Points Guy used the example of a new route on Spirit that leaves Las Vegas for Oakland, Calif., but the continues on to Sacramento, Calif., before heading back to Vegas.

In fact, here are Spirit’s new circle routes for the month of May:

Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Raleigh/Durham (RDU) – Charlotte (CLT) – Fort Lauderdale

Las Vegas – Oakland – Sacramento – Las Vegas

Las Vegas – Seattle (SEA) – Portland, Oregon (PDX) – Las Vegas

Orlando (MCO) – Asheville (AVL) – Greensboro (GSO) – Orlando

Orlando – Cleveland (CLE) – Columbus (CMH) – Orlando

Orlando – Pittsburgh (PIT) – Latrobe, Pennsylvania (LBE) – Orlando

Orlando – Richmond (RIC) – Charleston, West Virginia (CRW) – Orlando

Serving cities with circular routings “allows us to keep our guests connected while also complying with the provisions of the CARES Act more efficiently,” Spirit spokesperson Erik Hofmeyer told TPG.

Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways have adopted a similar practice.

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