Spirit Airlines to establish crew, maintenance base in Las Vegas

In tandem with its growing flight schedule at McCarran International Airport, discounter Spirit Airlines announced Tuesday that it would establish crew and maintenance bases in Las Vegas starting in February.

While giving only sketchy details, the Miramar, Fla.-based carrier said the crew base would house more than 100 pilots and flight attendants.

A company spokeswoman said Spirit would recruit locally for flight attendants and first officers, but did not specify how many positions that would cover.

The maintenance base would not include a hangar, but would include mechanics and the storage of equipment and parts. Spirit did not detail what hiring might occur.

Early in 2009, Spirit had slashed its Las Vegas schedule to just two flights a day due to the weak economy.

But starting a year ago, the airline began to bolster its presence by adding nonstop flights to destinations such as Dallas-Fort Worth; Chicago; Portland, Ore.; and Los Angeles. During October, the flight count jumped to 21 a day, while the 114,000 passengers it carried through McCarran in September marked a 247 percent increase from one year earlier.

Las Vegas is now its second-busiest city after its main hub in Fort Lauderdale. Fla.

In an email response, a Spirit spokeswoman said that opening of crew and maintenance bases was prompted more by overall expansion -- its fleet will grow from 35 to 68 jets over the next four years -- than local considerations.

But on the website airliners.net, a person identified only as mccarranmgr said Spirit had informed the airport that it intended to run 10 flights a day out of the four gates it currently leases.

A McCarran spokesman could not confirm whether the person was part of management.

Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.