Massive airline merger collapses, leaves Orlando airport as collateral

Credit: Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Earlier this year, it was announced that budget airlines Spirit and Frontier would merge into a larger airline in a bid to compete with Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and other domestic options.

Frontier Airlines planes on the tarmac
credit: ABC

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In a press release in February, the airlines said:

Together, Frontier and Spirit anticipate changing the industry in favor of consumers, offering more ultra-low prices to more travelers at more destinations across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, including major cities as well as underserved communities. The combined company’s stronger financial profile will enable it to accelerate investment in innovation and growth and compete more aggressively, particularly against the dominant “Big Four” 1 airlines, among others.

Spirit plane in flight
Credit: Spirit Airlines

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Now, Frontier has walked away from the acquisition, leaving JetBlue as the only carrier interested in pursuing Spirit – and it looks like it could make matters worse for travelers at Orlando International Airport (MCO).

Although the airport – the main hub for Walt Disney World Resort travelers – is on the cusp of a massive upgrade with the opening of the high-tech Terminal C, it’s already ranked among the worst in the world for flight cancellation rates.

mco station c
Credit: Screenshot via Greg Angel (Twitter/@NewsGuyGreg)

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Now, file Orlando Sentinel The report notes that fewer flights will be provided to travelers in Central Florida thanks to the Spirit/Frontier/JetBlue disaster:

With Frontier out and JetBlue left alone to pursue Spirit, it’s not immediately clear how Orlando International Airport passengers won’t be a loser due to a reduced fare competition with a full takeover.

Southwest Airlines remains Orlando’s dominant carrier, with expected to reach 102 daily flights in August. Also for the month, Spirit is the busiest with 72 daily flights followed by JetBlue with 51 expected daily flights.

Jetblue interior lights are on
Credit: JetBlue

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according to WatchmanAmid concerns about fewer flights being offered to popular destinations like Newark, New Jersey, there are also concerns that JetBlue’s potential acquisition of Spirit could cause problems with the opening of Terminal C.

The news outlet asked MCO officials how this business deal could affect airline occupancy:

Orlando International Airport has a long and mutually beneficial partnership with both companies [JetBlue and Spirit] “We look forward to the potential new opportunities this merger will provide for our customers,” said Kevin Thibault, CEO of airport operator, Greater Orlando Aviation.

jetblue plane on tarmac
Credit: JetBlue

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for every Watchman:

JetBlue has long been the primary tenant of choice for the attractive, high-tech terminal, which is located a mile south of the original Terminals A and B in southern Orange County. Nine other foreign airlines and a domestic airline start-up will also operate from Terminal C.

The new terminal will initially have 15 gates and an annual capacity of 12 million passengers per year. With both companies growing, JetBlue currently hosts approximately 5 million passengers annually, while Spirit has more than 8 million passengers annually.

Delta Air Lines Terminal at Los Angeles Outer Airport
Credit: Delta Airlines

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The exact opening date for MCO’s Terminal C has not been confirmed, but is expected to be announced in the near future — it’s unknown if the situation with JetBlue and Spirit will cause any delays or exactly how the Frontier deal will negatively impact Orlando-area travelers moving forward.

Are you a Central Florida resident and consider MCO your home airport?

visit Disney World official website To plan your next magical vacation to the four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort – Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios – and the shopping and dining area at Disney Springs or Disneyland official website Plan your trip to two theme parks at the Disneyland Resort – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park – and the Downtown Disney District!

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