Ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) Spirit Airlines is the world’s most recovered airline since the pandemic as of this month. The airline reportedly has nearly 26,000 frequencies scheduled in November, representing an increase of more than 35% compared to the same period pre-pandemic.
Around the globe, other ULCCs have also seen recovery improvements in addition to flag carriers, showcasing the growth in their respective countries. Surprisingly, no US legacy carriers topped the list of most recovered, instead recording a decrease in frequencies compared to November 2019.
Low-cost carriers recover nicely
Spirit has had a year of ups, significantly growing its route network with the addition of several new flights. On the contrary, there have been some setbacks that the airline has faced, most notably with the Pratt & Whitney engine issues, but also with the stalling of its proposed merger with JetBlue Airways.
Despite the hurdles, the airline has improved its frequencies since the pandemic, catching the eyes of analysts at OAG, an aviation analytics and data provider. Among the top twenty most-recovered airlines in the world, Spirit is number one, according to the latest statistics from OAG.
The data shows a trend among low-cost airlines and their improvement since the pandemic. India-based IndiGo, Ireland-based Ryanair, and US-based Southwest Airlines are among the top five, indicating that travelers have chosen the low-cost option in the market.
During the third quarter, India’s capacity has approached pre-pandemic levels, and IndiGo’s numbers accurately reflect the country’s continued advancement. China, however, has had a much slower recovery, but improvement is indicated with Air China and China Eastern’s performance among the top 10 most-recovered airlines.
All three US legacy carriers saw a decrease in frequencies since November 2019. Air Canada rounds out the top 20, recovering the least with a frequency reduction of 30%.
Interestingly, all carriers have reduced their frequencies compared to last month. According to OAG, the decrease results from airlines traditionally taking time to conduct aircraft maintenance checks and giving crews more time to rest following the busy summer travel season.
Top 20 airlines by market size
Comparing the airlines by market size results in a difference in performance. By seats, the four largest airlines in the US performed at the top, according to OAG.
Although Spirit does not carry the most passengers, nearly 140,000 less than American, the carrier still improved by market size, adding about 6,800 seats since November 2019.