Spirit Airlines Cancels Flights for Inspections, Expects Disruptions for Days
On Friday, Spirit Airlines was forced to cancel approximately 100 flights and remove some planes from service for inspections. The airline anticipates that these disruptions will continue for several days, causing inconvenience for passengers. Although Spirit did not provide specific details about the inspections, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that they involved checking brackets on the planes’ fuselages.
By late Friday afternoon, Spirit had canceled 11% of its scheduled flights for the day, making it the airline with the highest percentage of canceled flights among major US airlines, according to FlightAware, a tracking service. This unexpected situation has created confusion amongst travelers.
In a statement, Spirit Airlines acknowledged the cancellations, stating that they were conducting necessary inspections on a small section of 25 of their aircraft. They explained that the impact on their network would last for several days as they work to complete the inspections and return to normal operations.
The FAA confirmed that it was aware of Spirit’s decision to remove the planes from service for “mandatory maintenance inspections.” These inspections aim to detect any signs of cracking around fasteners that hold pressure panels to beams on aircraft fuselages, according to an FAA document. If such cracks are left undetected, they pose a risk to the structural integrity of the aircraft and could result in rapid decompression.
Airlines have long been aware of the risk of fatigue cracks in aircraft frames. The inspections being carried out by Spirit have been required by both European and US regulators for many years and were last updated by the FAA in 2018. The FAA assured that it will ensure the issue is addressed before the planes return to service, prioritizing passenger safety.
Spirit Airlines, headquartered in Miramar, Florida, operates a fleet of 198 aircraft, all variants of the Airbus A320 family. The airline advised its customers to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport to avoid any unnecessary travel inconveniences.
Orlando International Airport in Florida, where Spirit is the second-largest carrier, experienced about half of Spirit’s flight cancellations. Despite this recent setback, Spirit Airlines has canceled only 1.5% of its flights this year, which is lower than the cancellation rates of Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines.
Passengers are advised to stay informed and stay in touch with Spirit Airlines for any updates on flight schedules during these inspection days.