CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Spirit Airlines officials have seen a great opportunity with the Charleston market and that is what led them to an expansion of services that officially took-off on Friday.
The first direct flight from Charleston’s Yeager Airport to Orlando International Airport through Spirit went on, following special events at the airport to celebrate the day.
Andrea Baigorria, the Manager of External Communications at Spirit Airlines told MetroNews there is a lot of momentum with Spirit Airlines in the Kanawha Valley.
“We have people understanding our business model and loving the kind of airline we are and the value we are offering. That gives us an opportunity to grow and be able to offer a flight like this one (Orlando),” she said.
The flight leaves the airport three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3:15 p.m., marking Spirit as the only airline offering flights from Charleston to Florida. Spirit also offers direct flights from Charleston to Myrtle Beach.
Yeager Airport Director Nick Keller previously told MetroNews that he expects the addition to generate around 25,000 more enplanements and passengers through Yeager per year.
Keller also said he was not worried about the ability to fill the flights, citing the success of Airtran Airways similar flight to Orlando International from Yeager Airport from 2009 to 2012.
The Airtran service was canceled due to the discontinuation of the airline after being bought by Southwest Airlines.
Michael Penland, the General Manager of Charleston services at Spirit Airlines, agreed with Keller on Friday. He said he is proud of the working partnership between Yeager Airport and the Spirit Support Center.
“Thru that partnership, they’ve determined this is a market they want to pursue,” Penland told MetroNews. “I think it’s a great opportunity, not only for our team locally to serve the community, but also for the community to take advantage of this opportunity to have a high valued vacation to a warm weathered city.”
Penland further said more of the opportunity comes from connecting flights at Orlando International, such as beaches and foreign countries.
“Orlando has grown significantly over the last few years. There is a lot of opportunities to connect and end up in a different destination if you want to,” he said.
At the kick-off event on Friday afternoon, Spirit ran a contest where guests – with bags packed – could have won a flight to Orlando. The winner also received a three-night hotel stay, a rental car and a large valued gift card.
Disney characters also made an appearance at the event as Disney World and other major theme parks sit in Orlando.