Release #: SPA 17.07
October 26, 2017

Spirit Pilots: Can Spirit Execute Its Growth Plan?

Attracting and Retaining Qualified, Professional Pilots Key to Plan’s Success

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Spirit pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), responded to Spirit Airlines’ third-quarter earnings report today, emphasizing that the company’s aggressive growth strategy hinges on its ability to hire approximately 1,500 pilots in the next five years—all the while competing with career-destination carriers that are looking to hire 10,000 pilots over that same time span.

“We’re concerned about the success of this airline moving forward. It’s a pilots’ labor market, and our pilots are starting to vote with their feet,” said Capt. Stuart Morrison, chairman of the Spirit unit of ALPA. “For more than two years, we’ve watched this company tout aggressive growth plans. Without a competitive pilot contract, these plans are in serious jeopardy.”

Although the company reported that the recent hurricanes negatively impacted revenue by $40 million, unit revenue was somewhat improved from earlier guidance. It also reported airline growth measures, including adding three of the 65 aircraft on order for their five-year plan.

“Spirit Airlines is committed to returning $100 million to shareholders, but Spirit pilots have the most invested in this airline. Spirit can survive without a stock buyback. However, without a pilot deal that allows it to attract and retain the pilots, Spirit’s aggressive growth plan is not realistic,” said Morrison. “It’s time for Spirit management to come back to the table with a contract that will attract—and retain—the high-quality pilot workforce needed for Spirit to grow and compete successfully.” 

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 58,000 pilots at 33 airlines in the United States and Canada, including the nearly 1,800 pilots of Spirit Airlines. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA. 


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or