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St. Louis Lambert International Airport Lands Spirit Airlines Flights

The departures drop off area of St. Louis Lambert International Airport as seen from a nearby parking garage on a mostly cloudy day.
Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Public Radio
Spirit Airlines plans to add nonstop flights between St. Louis Lambert International Airport and five cities starting at the end of May.

Spirit Airlines is adding St. Louis Lambert International Airport to its routes for the first time.

The budget airline will begin offering daily nonstop flights to five major cities in its network starting on May 27. The cities include: Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Pensacola, Florida; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles.

Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge made the announcement during a media briefing at the airport on Thursday.

In an interview after the event, she said the fact that Spirit is coming to St. Louis for the first time now is an encouraging sign.

“They are more of a leisure destination airline and certainly we are seeing some demand for that leisure market to get out and travel, especially as the vaccine is becoming more available and people have been pent up,” she said.

Hamm-Niebruegge said March is shaping up to be the airport’s best month since the pandemic hit a year ago. She also said the airlines operating out of Lambert have told her they’re expecting more traffic in the summer and fall.

Corporate travel is still down, but she expects it to rebound in the long run.

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a major blow to passenger traffic at airports across the country. Last year, about 6.3 million travelers passed through Lambert, a 60% drop from 2019.

Nicholas Bartolotta, Spirit director of network planning, said in a prerecorded interview that the airline chose to expand in St. Louis because it’s the largest city in the country the airline didn’t previously serve. It’s also the seventh new city the airline has added in the past year.

“As we look at cities in our network today, a lot of cities with similar characteristics to St. Louis have been rebounding quickly. And that’s what made us feel confident that this is the right time to enter St. Louis,” he said.

Bartolotta said the airline is also considering plans to expand St. Louis flights in the future.

This story was updated to include comments from the airport director.

Follow Corinne on Twitter: @corinnesusan

Corinne is the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.