The Wall Street Journal has a great interview (click that if you subscribe) with Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza that sheds some light on the way Spirit’s executive team thinks about the carrier (WSJ is a paid service, but you can read this – and all their articles – for free by going to news.google.com and searching for an article’s headline, in this case “Flying Spirit’s ‘Dollar Store in the Sky’ to Profit”).
The most telling part of the article is where he discusses their intense focus on driving down costs by unbundling the flying experience, not creating an airline that’s perfect for executives, by saying, “We’re not in business to build an airline that maybe any of us specifically wants to fly.”
That’s an interesting point because I would say that most airline executives (and really, most executive teams across industries, mine (apparel) included) would say they’re focused on building a product that they would be product to use/wear/fly/whatever. That’s not what Spirit is saying. They are trying to offer the lowest priced (and cost) flying experience available. That means re-thinking conventions about flying, something few airlines in the 80+ year history of the industry have done.
And as I write roughly once a year, that focus has paid off in constant, significant profits, year in and year out, even during the economic crisis of 2008.
You don’t have to fly them; you don’t have to think their ads are funny; you don’t have to be happy about paying for a carry-on; but you have to admire a company that has defined its strategic vision and executed on it as consistently and successfully as Spirit.
Check out the interview – it’s worth the read.