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Spirit Airlines furloughs 260 pilots amid money-saving moves

Spirit Airlines furloughs 260 pilots amid money-saving moves

(CNN) — Spirit Airlines announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with Airbus to delay all aircraft deliveries scheduled from the second quarter of 2025 to 2026, in addition to seeking to furlough about 260 pilots, while the company takes measures to save money.

The low-cost airline said it would postpone scheduled deliveries until 2030-2031. As a result of these delays, which come on top of quality problems with engines made by supplier Pratt & Whitney, Spirit will furlough pilots effective September 1.

Spirit shares rose about 5% in early trading.

A problem with its Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engines has forced Spirit to ground some of its A320neo aircraft, hitting the company just as it is already facing a cash crunch.

The airline said the deal with Airbus will improve Spirit's liquidity by about $340 million over the next two years, adding that there are no changes to its orders scheduled for delivery during 2027-2029.

“The postponement of aircraft and suspension of pilots appears to be a positive thing, in terms of helping the airline reduce (or) defer some costs. However, among other factors, the airline is now also likely to reduce its revenue generation opportunities.”

Spirit, which has been losing money for several quarters despite strong travel demand, operates an entire fleet of Airbus planes. As of December 2023, the company had a total of 205 Airbus aircraft.

The airline now expects to end 2025 with a total of 219 aircraft in its fleet, without the addition of the A320neo. It had previously hoped to add six A320neo aircraft in 2025 and increase its fleet to 234 aircraft.

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The groundings are “deeply concerning to the entire pilot community,” said Ryan Mueller, chairman of the Spirit Airlines Executive Council of the Airline Pilots Association.

Mueller added that the council and negotiating committee are exploring voluntary measures that could mitigate the need or number of suspensions required.