Spirit Airlines to furlough 260 pilots, will defer deliveries of new Airbus planes

Spirit Airlines

Budget carrier Spirit Airlines announced on Monday that it is furloughing 260 pilots and will defer the deliveries of new Airbus planes.

>> Read more trending news

In a statement, Spirit said the moves would save the company $340 million over the next two years, The New York Times reported.

“Unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to furlough pilots given the grounded aircraft in our fleet and our deferral of future deliveries,” CEO Ted Christies said. “We are doing everything we can to protect team members while balancing our responsibility to return to positive cash flow and thrive as a healthy company with long-term growth prospects.”

The company said it expected to implement the furloughs beginning on Sept. 1, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Spirit said it will defer all Airbus planes it has on order for delivery from the second quarter of 2025 through the end of 2026, CNBC reported. The delivery of those aircraft will be in 2030 and 2031, according to the air carrier.

In January, a federal judge rejected a bid by New York-based JetBlue Airways to buy Spirit for $3.8 billion, citing antitrust issues, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents the airline’s cockpit crew, said it was exploring voluntary measures that could limit the number of pilot furloughs, CNBC reported.

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

The Sun-Sentinel, citing a year-end filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said that Spirit had 205 planes in operation at the end of 2023. For the fourth quarter of 2023, the airline posted a net loss of $183.7 million, according to the newspaper.