Spirit Airlines CEO Does Damage Control

Bob Fornaro, president and CEO of Spirit Airlines, wrote a letter to the discount carrier’s customers Thursday night apologizing for the flight delays and cancellations early this month that resulted in a brawl at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport. 

“A couple of weeks ago, we suffered service disruptions and had to cancel approximately 15% of our flights over the course of a few days,” Fornaro writes. “We regret the inconvenience this caused and have been hard at work to ensure this does not happen again. We are committed, as always, to providing our valued customers with safe, reliable and on-time flights to their travel destinations.”

Three people were arrested May 9 at the airport during the incident. At the time, Spirit blamed the cancellations and delays on a work slowdown by pilots. The airline ended up going to court to get the Air Line Pilots Association International to return to normal operations. 

Most of Fornaro’s letter focused on the positive and future plans, including a mobile app by the end of summer as well as a refreshed Web site and new kiosks at the airports by year end.

“Over the past year, we invested heavily to improve your customer experience,” he writes. “We increased staffing and our focus on service training. We built a new state-of-the-art hangar and opened new training centers to keep our crew and equipment in tip-top shape. And we brought on 16 new aircraft, adding to the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleet in the country.”

The improvements resulted in on-time performance increasing by nearly 15% and customer satisfaction increased by 50%, he writes.

However, the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index travel report ranked Spirit last among domestic airlines, including ultra low-fare competitors Allegiant and Frontier. 

United — another airline wracked by a recent PR disaster when a passenger was dragged off a flight after refusing to give up his seat — was the lowest-rated of the nation's big three airlines again this year, although its satisfaction score increased by 3%.

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