Spirit Airlines' Mass Cancellations Aren't Over Yet, CEO Warns
"We've spent years investing in the reliable, on-time experience you've come to expect with Spirit, and this week we fell short."
Spirit Airlines' CEO apologized for a slew of cancellations and delays that stranded thousands of customers this week on Thursday but also warned that problems would likely continue into next week.
"Our primary objective right now is taking care of our Guests and Team Members and getting our operation back to where we want it to be," CEO Ted Christie said in a statement shared with Travel +Leisure. "To our Guests, I am truly sorry. We've spent years investing in the reliable, on-time experience you've come to expect with Spirit, and this week we fell short. We're going to do everything we can to earn back your loyalty."
Christie estimated that tens or hundreds of thousands of customers were affected by the disruptions, which began Sunday and eventually resulted in more than 1,700 canceled flights. The airline blamed "operational challenges" for the issues, including staffing shortages.
"Ultimately, the number of crews facing those issues outpaced our crew scheduling department's capacity for getting them back in place," a Spirit spokesperson shared with T+L.
The problems resulted in Spirit being forced to put more than half of its daily schedule on hold some days — like Tuesday and Wednesday when it canceled at least 60% of flights — but the trouble isn't over yet.
Christie told ABC News that the airline expects to cancel about half of its schedule on Friday alone. However, the spokesperson said that the CEO expects Spirit's cancellation rate to continue to improve over the weekend, resuming normal operations by the middle of next week.
Christie said Spirit was offering affected customers cash refunds as compensation.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.