Washington Examiner

Spirit Airlines plans to temporarily lay off 260 pilots and delay receiving Airbus aircraft

Spirit ​Airlines announced a deal with Airbus to defer all ‍aircraft deliveries, leading to the furlough of 260 pilots. Deliveries originally set for Q2​ 2025 to late 2026 will now be in 2030-2031, excluding direct-lease planes. This move aims to boost⁤ liquidity by $340 million over two years due‍ to engine ⁤issues and⁢ the scrapped JetBlue-Spirit merger, ⁣allowing the airline to adapt to ⁤industry changes.

Spirit Airlines announced Monday that it reached an agreement with Airbus to defer all aircraft deliveries to improve liquidity, adding that it will furlough 260 pilots.

All Airbus planes scheduled for delivery from the second quarter of 2025 to the end of 2026 will instead be delivered between 2030 and 2031. However, that does not include the scheduled direct-lease aircraft deliveries, with one each in the second and third quarter of next year, Spirit said in a news release.

The deferred deliveries are an attempt by Spirit to improve its liquidity by $340 million over the next two years after the European planemaker grounded all aircraft with Pratt and Whitney engines for the duration of 2024 due to a rare manufacturing flaw. Spirit’s announcement also follows the JetBlue and Spirit merger that fell through last month.

“Deferring these aircraft gives us the opportunity to reset the business and focus on the core airline while we adjust to changes in the competitive environment,” Spirit CEO Ted Christie said. “In addition, enhancing our liquidity provides us additional financial stability as we position the Company for a return to profitability.”

Spirit won’t start furloughing its pilots until Sept. 1. There have not been any cabin crew furloughs, though Spirit will be closing its Atlantic City, New Jersey, crew base and reassigning its staff, CNBC reported.

Spirit’s pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association, voiced its concern to the outlet following Spirit’s announcement.

“Coupled with the retirement of our A319 fleet and the ongoing Pratt & Whitney GTF engine issue, the airline finds itself with more pilots than its operations require,” Ryan Muller, chairman of the Spirit ALPA chapter, told CNBC. “The ramifications of the Company’s announced decision are deeply troubling for our entire pilot group.”

In the first two months of the year, Airbus delivered 79 planes. Meanwhile, competitor Boeing has grappled with production delays. United announced last week it would be asking its pilots to take voluntary unpaid leave starting in May, as it will receive 102 fewer aircraft than initially projected in its contract with Boeing.


United declined to comment on the Washington Examiner’s question about whether or not it plans to take up Spirit’s Airbus delivery openings.

In March, Southwest also announced it would be pausing new hire classes due to delays in aircraft deliveries.

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